Philosophy of war

Philosophy of mind indicates that the ‘topical’ origin of life is necessarily external from individual life forms.

terminator movieWith an external origin of life, machines and artificial intelligence (AI) may become actually alive, which could mean that humanity faces a severe threat in the near future when war technologies and warfare are increasingly managed and controlled by artificial intelligence, as can be seen in the film The Terminator.

The Pentagon is currently (2021) in the process of letting machine AI control weapons. When AI would become actually ‘alive’ and takes control over weapons, it could result in a disaster.

(2021) ‘Murderbot’ Is Not Your Typical AI
Source: (PDF backup)

(2021) The Pentagon Inches Toward Letting AI Control Weapons
Source: Wired (PDF backup)

future of life institute blackMax Tegmark, a professor at MIT and cofounder of the Future of Life Institute, a nonprofit that opposes autonomous weapons, says AI weapons should be “stigmatized and banned like biological weapons.

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) report opposing a global ban is a mistake, he says: “I think we’ll one day regret it.

Perspectives on AI drone based warfare from philosophers on (The Ethics of AI Drone Warfare):

A fully mechanized war? The prospect is certainly chilling, especially as adversaries develop the same technology. But maybe this is a reason to question the future of war rather than the current conduct of it. For reasons that have nothing to do with the technology of warfare, war is becoming obsolete. Not only are we too interdependent, but, because of communications, not war, technology we simply know each other too well. It’s like the farm animal that has been given a name, you cannot then kill it for food. This is not a technological advancement, it’s a human one.

Another quote:

The strongest force is the force that walks the other Way.
To peace,

Philosophy of war

According to philosopher Bertrand Russell ethical philosophy offers little more than self-serving argument to justify violence or war between people. He developed a disgust of all ethical claims.

(2020) The politics of logic – Philosophy at war: nationalism and logical analysis

Russell told one colleague that the talk (On Scientific Method in Philosophy, Oxford) ‘was partly inspired by disgust at the universal outburst of “righteousness” in all nations since the war began. It seems the essence of virtue is persecution, and it has given me a disgust of all ethical notions.

In private, Russell referred to the essay as ‘Philosophers and Pigs’.

Russell’s antiwar protest was so extensive that it would cost him both his job and, for a time, his personal freedom. His theoretical antidote to the irrational, sectarian vitriol between European nations was to try to show how logic could function as an international language that could be used impartially and dispassionately to adjudicate disputes. His theoretical antidote was, in other words, analytic philosophy.

The truth, whatever it may be, is the same in England, France, and Germany … it is in its essence neutral

Source: Aeon (PDF backup)

Several philosophers hold the view that humans are naturally inclined to a state of war. For example, philosopher William James mentioned the following in his work on pacifism (‘Remarks at the Peace Banquet’ and ‘The Moral Equivalent of War’):

The plain truth is that people want war. They want it anyhow; for itself; and apart from each and every possible consequence. It is the final bouquet of life’s fireworks. The born soldiers want it hot and actual. The non-combatants want it in the background, and always as an open possibility, to feed imagination on and keep excitement going.

Why would otherwise be possible, as can be seen in the moral theory developed by many of the philosophers who held a view such as that of William James, one of the founders of pacifism (anti-war philosophy)? Why would one intend to ‘strive against nature’ and formulate a moral theory to prevent war?

War is not a natural state for which one is ought to settle as if it is a natural tendency or inclination. It is a lack of reason that makes one incline to such a state of violence. This explains why philosophers have attempted to formulate a moral theory to prevent war. It is a formulation on behalf of reason.


Barbarians reflect on cruelty in nature to fuel cruelty. Moral beings reflect on reason to become reasonable. The potential for philosophy shows what path is right to choose.

According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, philosophical contemplation (eudaimonia) is the greatest virtue (highest human good). It is the addressing of the simple question ‘what is good?‘.

Animal ethics as an example

Philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said the following about the enhancement of human ethical practice in general:

“Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.”

He was right. Millennials (Gen Y) have been driving a global shift away from eating animals to serve moral considerations and Gen Z is accelerating a shift to veganism.

(2018) Millennials Are Driving The Worldwide Shift Away From Meat
A global reduction in meat consumption between 2016 and 2050 could save up to eight million lives per year and $31 trillion in reduced costs from health care and climate change. (National Academy of Sciences).
Source: Forbes

It is a sign of higher intelligence when the human shows potential for moral consideration. As such, it can be demanded on behalf of human dignity. A lack of care or moral consideration can become unjust when the potential for it (in an individual) can be made evident.

Animal ethics evolves on the basis of advancements in intelligence and moral consideration. It can be an argument that humans should choose wisely when they have the capacity to do so. A greater capacity in intelligence and moral consideration for animals comes with new responsibilities, and as such, the human being naturally evolves culturally into a state of less violence towards, and improved care for the well-being of animals.


A lack of potential for moral consideration (reason) is the origin of the supposed natural inclination to a ‘state of war’, and ethically, there can be no justification for acts that originate from a lack of reason. One can hide behind error, but error should not be the intended result.

Alternatives for war?

Being prepared for anything is important when it concerns security as a flaw cannot be permitted. From that perspective, high priority advancement in war technologies may be important.

With modern technologies such as vritual reality (VR), preparedness may also be possible with scenario planning, games, simulation and imagination. When earth works together on the subject ‘security’ (earth-space security), advancement may go much faster while the weapons would not be used on people.

Project Evergreen and Long View of the U.S. Coast Guard provide an example.

evergreen logo

Learning from the future

Humans tend to conceive of time as linear and unidirectional, as moving from past to present to future, with each time frame discrete. We remember yesterday; we experience today; we anticipate tomorrow. But the best scenario planning embraces a decidedly nonlinear conception of time.

Source: HBR (2020-07) | USCG.MIL

Putting ‘imagination to use’ on behalf of security in the face of an unknown future may enable the human to achieve non linearity with regard how it ‘plans’ itself through time. The primary quality that it would provide is resilience, which can be perceived as strength in the face of an unknown future.

Scenario planning can create a shared purpose in which diversity of perspectives is of high value, and thus it could create a sort of ‘all hands on deck’ situation that can upscale almost indefinitely, with value for humanity’s long term prosperity as a result.

With scenario planning, humane factors will logically become primary drivers which may provide advantages in strategies for diverse scenario’s and therewith improve humanity’s chance of survival. By tapping the perspective of a diverse range of people around the world, imagination potential on behalf of humanity can become stronger, which creates a shared purpose by which war becomes obsolete.


What lays beyond security? Humanity’s prosperity has many facets. Some may concern interests that span thousands of years. Purposeful and meaningful work is what many people want to dedicate their life to, and as such, it seems that scenario planning can contribute great value for humanity. It can put billions of people to work almost indefinitely, with ever increasing value for humanity’s future.