Morally responsible decision making in networked military operations

C.G. Boshuijzen-Van Burken, B. Van Bezooijen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Introducing responsible innovations on the battlefield requires a rethinking of social and psychological aspects of moral decision making on the battlefield, and in particular, including how these aspects are influenced by technology. In this chapter, the social aspects of moral decision making are accounted for in terms of the normative practices in which soldiers do their jobs. Soldiers on the battlefield are embedded in a very specific structure, and are expected to act according to rules, norms and procedures. Their actions are inspired by a certain worldview, which influences the way in which the rules, norms and procedures are interpreted. Technology, especially ICT, connects different practices on the battlefield, thereby creating a network of different (sub-)practices. This may cause a blurring or clashing of different norative practices, which affects moral decision making. In this chapter, Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAs) are used as a case in point for technologically mediated moral decision making. The normative practice model gives insights in the social aspect of decision making in networked missions, but it does not pay attention to the role of the individual soldier in an in-depth way. Therefore an addition is needed, which focusses on the individual soldiers themselves. For the individual level, we take the psychological component of moral decision making and explain how this aspect is affected by technology. The model of normative practices is thus informed by insights from empirical psychology. Moral psychologists have empirically investigated how certain cues influence moral decision making. Some of the cues can be effectuated through technology. Social cognitive theory, as developed by Bandura (Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1986), (Personality and Social Psychology Review 3(3):193-209, 1999) and moral intensity theory developed by Jones (Academy of Management Review 16(2):366-395, 1991) are theories that explain moral decision making mechanisms in terms of respectively moral (dis)engagement mechanisms and the perceived moral intensity of a situation. From both theories we infer how visual data sharing technologies can increase or decrease morally appropriate decision making in networked enabled operations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponsible Innovation 2
Subtitle of host publicationConcepts, Approaches, and Applications
EditorsBert-Jaap Koops, Ilse Oosterlaken, Henny Romijn, Tsjalling Swierstra, Jeroen van den Hoven
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-17308-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-17307-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Moral decision making
  • Moral intensity theory
  • Network enabled operations
  • Normative practices
  • Remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs)
  • Social cognitive theory

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