Moral Cyber Weapons
Denning, Dorothy E.
Strawser, Bradley J.
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This paper examines the morality of cyber weapons, offering conditions under which they are not only ethical under just war theory, but morally preferred over their kinetic counterparts. When these conditions are satisfied, states not only have the option of using cyber weapons, but could even acquire a moral duty to do so over other forms of warfare. In particular, we show that states are morally obliged to use cyber weapons instead of kinetic weapons when they can be deployed for a purpose already deemed just under the law of armed conflict and without any significant loss of capability. The reason behind this moral obligation is that cyber weapons can reduce both the risk to one’s own (putatively just) military and the harm to one’s adversary and non-combatants. The paper discusses this obligation, using examples to illustrate cases where it does or does not apply. It also addresses several objections that have been raised about the use of cyber weapons, showing that they fail to fully counter the obligation to use cyber weapons derived from their reduction of risk and harm properties.
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