Death machines

The ethics of violent technologies

By Elke Schwarz

Death machines


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1482-2
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: July 2018
  • BIC Category: Politics, International relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy, HISTORY / Military / General, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Military Science, HISTORY / Military / Biological & Chemical Warfare, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / General, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Bio-Ethics, Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Society & social sciences / Warfare & defence, Technology: General Issues, Society & social sciences / International relations


As innovations in military technologies race toward ever-greater levels of automation and autonomy, debates over the ethics of violent technologies tread water. Death Machines reframes these debates, arguing that the way we conceive of the ethics of contemporary warfare is itself imbued with a set of bio-technological rationalities that work as limits. The task for critical thought must therefore be to unpack, engage, and challenge these limits. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, the book offers a close reading of the technology-biopolitics-complex that informs and produces contemporary subjectivities, highlighting the perilous implications this has for how we think about the ethics of political violence, both now and in the future.


'Essential reading for those working with or on the issue of drones, autonomy and AI to engage with the ever-increasing use of violent technologies, regarding both the physical death they inflict and the ethical death in the wake of their use.'
Joanna Frew, Drone Wars UK, October 2018


Elke Schwarz is Lecturer in Political Theory at Queen Mary University London


Introduction: The conditioned human
1. Biopolitics and the technological subject
2. Biopolitical technologies in Arendt and Foucault
3. Anti-political (post)modernity
4. Procedural violence
5. Ethics as technics
6. All hail our robot overlords
7. Prescription drones
Conclusion: For an ethics beyond technics

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