The Doctrine of Double Effect & Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems
22 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2022
Date Written: December 21, 2022
Within Just War Theory, the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE) modifies the principle of distinction by reference to the intent of an act: the unintentional though foreseeable killing of noncombatants is morally permissible (providing a proportionality clause is met), and the intentional killing of noncombatants is morally impermissible. One concern is that the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) has superseded DDE because of the separation they introduce between the agent with intention – the human operator – and the agent who targets – the LAWS. As a result, DDE may be incapable of capturing, and thus evaluating, noncombatant deaths resulting from using LAWS. In this article, we address this concern by proposing a revised account of DDE to address cases of noncombatant harm caused by LAWS. We argue that when LAWS cause harm to noncombatants, a distinctive moral wrong occurs because that harm is instrumental to LAWS deployment. This wrong is a consequence of the fact that military organisations deploying LAWS involve noncombatants in circumstances useful to the military organisation precisely by way of involving those noncombatants.
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Doctrine of Double Effect, Intention, Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, Just War Theory.
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