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Prescription drones: On the techno-biopolitical regimes of contemporary ‘ethical killing’

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-04-11, 11:34 authored by Elke Schwarz
As military technologies progress at a pace that challenges human cognitive and reasoning capacities, it is becoming ever more difficult to appraise the ethics of their use. In this article, I argue that the contours of ethical killing are shaped and constrained by a medical discourse that has its basis in a deeper regime of techno-biopolitical expertise. Narratives and representations of drones as surgical, ethical and wise instruments for counter-terrorism activities rely not only on the rendering neutral of both technology and practice, but also on a conflation of technology with practice as a biopolitical necessity. In this conflation, I argue, the practice of targeted killing is adiaphorized. Images and metaphors of the body politic turn drone-strikes into a form of medicine that experts prescribe as a means of treating or preventing political cancers, diseases and illnesses. Ethics, in turn, is treated as a primarily technical matter – something to be technologically clarified and administered from an expert space beyond the zone of ethical contestation. As long as this is the case, ethics will remain but a cog in our new killing machines.

History

Citation

Security Dialogue, 2015, 47 (1), pp. 59-75

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Politics and International Relations

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Security Dialogue

Publisher

SAGE Publications (UK and US), Peace Research Institute Oslo

issn

0967-0106

eissn

1460-3640

Copyright date

2015

Available date

2016-04-11

Publisher version

http://sdi.sagepub.com/content/47/1/59

Language

en

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