Another Question Concerning Technology: The Ethical Implications of Homeland Defence and Security Technologies
Kaag, John Jacob
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This essay begins to provide a unified moral reckoning with the way in which ideas concerning technological progress have altered the rules of military engagement and the implementation of homeland security. It will address both military technologies and technologies that secure the homeland, since the development and use of these technologies are vulnerable to the same ethical pitfalls. First, this essay employs Just War theory as a theoretical frame in which to situate the discussion and argues that the technology associated with precision guided munitions (PGM) only open the possibility of ethical discrimination and proportionality, but in no way insure that these possibilities will be actualized. Second, it begins to expose the relationship between the increasing popularity of PGM technology and the rhetoric that is used to describe contemporary military conflict. If precision weaponry is assumed to be inherently ethical, it may grant policymakers and strategists the chance to conflate the description of tactics with the prescription of normative judgements. Several case studies are employed to demonstrate this point. The second half of the paper asks if the technological progress that has come to define homeland security may lead to similar ethical difficulties in the fields of intelligence and law enforcement. It explores the way in which military technology and rhetoric might be redeployed in the domestic sphere. The questions concerning PGM and homeland security technologies and their moral implications are also 'questions concerning technology'-an interrogation of the moral and epistemic assumptions that seem to accompany and validate technical capabilities. It is a question that strikes at the heart of homeland security.
This article appeared in Homeland Security Affairs (January 2008), v.4 no.1
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