Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alastair Norcross

Second Advisor

Chris Heathwood

Third Advisor

Graham J. Oddie


The use of uninhabited aerial vehicles, or drones, by the United States military has drawn increasing criticism in recent years. Despite this opposition, drones seem to have several advantages. They can reach areas that would not accessible to human soldiers, can survey a location for hours at a time, and are thought to be more precise than other weapons. However, drones have been shown to cause significant fear in civilian populations; here, I argue that this psychological harm makes the use of drones impermissible in many cases. Relevant to this conclusion is the role of intention. I consider several theories of civilian targeting, and argue that we should accept an account based in liability or desert rather than one that depends on intention. If we accept this sort of view, we seem to get more intuitive and more consistent results in a variety of cases, including cases involving drones.