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Keywords:

  • asymmetric warfare;
  • remote weapons;
  • drones;
  • precision-guided munitions;
  • just war theory

Remote weapons, such as precision-guided munitions (PGMs) and drones, regularly play an important part in contemporary military operations, but they are extremely controversial on moral grounds. Although critics of these weapons have raised a number of objections against their use, many rely on some variation of the asymmetry thesis. This is the claim that it is immoral to wage war using weapons that allocate risk asymmetrically, allowing those who use these weapons to minimise their exposure to risk while their opponents can be easily attacked. In this article, it is demonstrated that the asymmetry thesis fails as a moral objection to the use of remote weapons by exploring three different variants of the asymmetry thesis and showing that each suffers from serious limitations.