Date of Original Version



Book Chapter

Abstract or Description

It is the height of banality to observe that people, not bullets, fight kinetic wars. The machinery of kinetic warfare is obviously relevant to the conduct of each particular act of warfare, but the reasons for, and meanings of, those acts depend critically on the fact that they are done by humans. Any attempt to understand warfare—its causes, strategies, legitimacy, dynamics, and resolutions—must incorporate humans as an intrinsic part, both descriptively and normatively. Humans from general staff to “boots on the ground” play key roles in all aspects of kinetic warfare, and the literature about it reflects this focus (e.g., the emphasis on understanding the adversary’s goals and constraints when developing battle plans). 2 In contrast, many discussions of cyberwarfare and cyber-conflict focus principally on the technical aspects of machines, systems, and data, 3 and human agents are included only as collateral effects (e.g., in discussions about the impact of disabling an adversary’s electrical grid), or as loci of moral responsibility (e.g., providing the ground for the moral justification of a cyber-attack).

Included in

Philosophy Commons



Published In

Binary Bullets: The Ethics of Cyberwarfare (Edited by Fritz Allhoff, Adam Henschke, and Bradley Jay Strawser), forthcoming.