Tag Archives: ethics

The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

“Now we have McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Court, in yet another controversial 5-4 opinionwritten by Roberts, struck down the limits on how much an individual can contribute to candidates, parties and political action committees. So instead of an individual donor being allowed to give $117,000 to campaigns, parties and PACs in an election cycle (the aggregate limit in 2012), they can now give up to $3.5 million, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reports. 

The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.”

 

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UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

“Asserting that obligation is core to the report. ‘In essence, the report states that it is governments who now bear the legal burden of explaining the strikes,” Knuckey writes. The report also recommends that the UN “set-up a panel of experts to discuss and report on the legal issues raised by the use of drones for targeted killings.'”

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Review: Killing by Remote Control: The Ethics of an Unmanned Military edited by Bradley Jay Strawser

Drone Wars UK

Killing by Remote Control: Ethics of an Unmanned Military is a new collection of academic essays edited by Bradley Jay Strawser, a philosophy professor at the US Navy Postgraduate School in California.  Strawser, as readers of this blog may remember, was interviewed by The Guardian last year and quoted as saying in relation to unmanned drones: “It’s all upside. There’s no downside. Both ethically and normatively, there’s a tremendous value.”  Famously, Strawser argues that the US has a moral duty to use drones.

Most, but not all, of the authors writing in this collection are coming from a military perspective, either as former serving officers or currently employed within military teaching institutions. As Strawser notes in his introduction “none of the contributors hold that there is an absolute moral prohibition against UAV use… however many have principled issues with their use [and] some argue that there is something about this form of…

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Killer robot flight: Video of UK’s autonomous drone released

Killer robot flight: Video of UK’s autonomous drone released

“’It would take the robot to be programmed, but once it was set free, it would proceed to make the targeting and kill decisions unless our campaign to stop the killer robots is able to make certain that human beings have to be involved meaningfully in the kill decision,’ she added, calling for a definition of who would bear responsibility in the event of any robotic machines running amok by accident, or by an attack from hackers.”

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The NSA is Even Spying on Computers That Aren’t Online

Swampland

A computer doesn’t need to be online for the National Security Agency to take a peek.

The spy agency has managed to sneak surveillance software onto almost 100,000 computers worldwide, and is even able to use computers that aren’t connected to the Internet for spying and cyberattacks, the New York Times reports. The NSA relies on secret channels of radio waves that are transmitted from tiny circuits and USB cards implanted by NSA-friendly spies or manufacturers to snoop on offline computers.

The NSA targets include units of the Chinese army, Russian military networks, systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, European Union trade institutions, as well as U.S. partners like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, the Times reports, in the latest details to emerge from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks.

The spying agency said it does not use implantation software or its radio frequency technology inside…

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I worked on the U.S. Drone Program–here’s what really happens

I worked on the U.S. Drone Program–here’s what really happens

“What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: ‘The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?’ I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.”

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Texas will keep a dead woman on life support just to incubate her fetus

Texas will keep a dead woman on life support just to incubate her fetus

“But when the heartbroken family was ready to say goodbye, hospital officials said they could not legally disconnect Marlise from life support. At the time she collapsed, she was 14 weeks pregnant.

And because doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat, state law says Marlise Munoz’s body — against her own and her family’s wishes — must be maintained as an unwilling incubator.”

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Paul Bloom: The case against empathy

Paul Bloom: The case against empathy

“The power of this faculty has something to do with its ability to bring our moral concern into a laser pointer of focussed attention. If a planet of billions is to survive, however, we’ll need to take into consideration the welfare of people not yet harmed—and, even more, of people not yet born. They have no names, faces, or stories to grip our conscience or stir our fellow-feeling. Their prospects call, rather, for deliberation and calculation. Our hearts will always go out to the baby in the well; it’s a measure of our humanity. But empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to have a future.”

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The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

“What is striking to me about the drone debate and the consideration of civilian casualties in Iraq is the pattern of attention. The infamous line of General Tommie Franks, “we don’t do body counts” (regarding, in that instance, Afghanistan, but equally applicable to Iraq), signaled a stubborn resistance on the part of the military to provide an account of the human cost of the war. The U.S. government was opaque, not only with regard to individual incidents, like the Haditha massacre, but about the overall picture of human insecurity in Iraq. When violence against civilians was discussed, it was typically attributed to Iraqis themselves, a ‘blaming-the-victim’ convenience. No statistical account was pursued by the government. The same has been true of drones, in which the program remains unacknowledged or at least not discussed officially, civilian ‘collateral damage’ denied, and an implicit attribution of blame to the ‘terrorists’ being targeted.”

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