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Cyber WarLaw and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts$
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Jens David Ohlin, Kevin Govern, and Claire Finkelstein

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198717492

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717492.001.0001

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Is There Anything Morally Special about Cyberwar?

Is There Anything Morally Special about Cyberwar?

(p.16) 2 Is There Anything Morally Special about Cyberwar?
Cyber War

James L Cook

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the philosophical question of whether the just-war tradition (JWT) can accommodate cyberwar. It argues that while the received JWT can accommodate the intentions and effects of cyberwar with no foundational modification, cyberwar also holds a unique ethical status at least for the historical moment. Three factors contribute to making cyberwar morally special—a growing sense of cyber’s ubiquity, uncontrollability, and neoreality. These three factors make it easier for our culture to view cyberwar as a constant and near-universal threat to good people and the ways they go about their daily lives. The ethics of threat spurred originally by the threat of nuclear war has lost momentum over the last decade. This chapter argues that the prospect of cyberwar may and should revive that ethics and take it in a new direction.

Keywords:   cyberwarfare, cyberwar, just war tradition, ethics, threat

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