Are glasses allowed in the British Army?

Ethics and military

Therapy - Enhancement - doping

“Falklands War invalid. British soldiers were doped. Repeat next year. ”Even if one has sometimes compared sporting and armed conflicts with one another - fortunately such an analogy has not yet been drawn. Sport should be game, but war and military violence are deadly serious. Isn't it obvious to say: “Since war is such a serious matter, nothing should be left to chance and everything should be done to find an optimal, i. H. to achieve the best possible result - victory. But to win you have to do everything, including doping or a military equivalent! ”?

Doping is the use of unauthorized performance-enhancing substances or the use of unauthorized methods to improve performance in sport. In a certain way, doping also falls under a phenomenon that is known today with the - also English - expression enhancement Tries to grasp: Increased performance through medical or biotechnological means that go beyond the restoration or maintenance of a normal state, i.e. not just have a therapeutic or preventive effect. Insofar as these performance increases affect human activities, one speaks of Human enhancement (I will leave this expression untranslated for the following, because like the term doping it has almost become established as such).

In practice, the boundaries between the therapeutic use of a drug and its performance-enhancing use are fluid,1 which already indicates a first difficulty in the matter. Just think of the discussions as to whether a potency-enabling or potency-increasing agent such as Viagra should be paid for by health insurances. A second difficulty lies in the simple fact that humans cannot remain in their natural biological state due to their biological makeup alone, but are dependent on clothing, for example in Europe - a very early form of Enhancement. Human culture begins with the use of tools; this, too, is a method of self-improvement. Today, however, people's urge to optimize can reach what is known as Body hacking (roughly speaking: installing technical implants in the body and almost to the Cyborg be) and Human Genetic Engineering go, in which the improvement successes are to be achieved through interventions in the germ line.2 This research does not stop at the military either. It is more likely the other way round: As is so often the case, military research projects spearhead. Jonathan Moreno reports in “Mind Wars” (New York 2006, new edition 2012) of “DARPA’s neuromics program, which is aimed at finding ways to permit brains and machines to interact”. Darpa - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - is a research division of the Pentagon, and the aim of this research is soldiers who can control robots through thoughts. In 2011, this authority was its own Neuroscience-Projects cost $ 240 million. But western soldiers are with us Enhancements Not only confronted as possible or actual users, but also by their opponents. Mark Bowden reported in "Black Hawk Down" that during the US Somalia mission in 1993 Somali men were frequent Khat have chewed, which is used to ingest the amphetamine cathine, which under certain circumstances can provoke these men enormously or make dangerous.

Civil use

Human enhancement entered the public debate in particular through studies that were supposed to show that so-called Neuro-enhancement-Products - which include conventional means such as caffeine, but also drugs - are on the rise with schoolchildren and students. In particular, methylphenidate, better known by its trade name Ritalin, is one of the common performance enhancers in this area. "A study on forms of stress compensation and performance enhancement among almost 8,000 students in Germany showed that 12% of students have taken one or more substances since the beginning of their studies in order to better cope with the study requirements".3

Performance orientation and pressure to perform among soldiers

However, stress and performance are factors that really play a role in the soldier's profession. The military occupational field is one of the most momentous areas of work that one can imagine. Every mistake in action can mean that a person is unnecessarily killed or that one unnecessarily ends up in an extremely critical situation or loses his life. When the going gets tough, soldiers are required to perform at their best; a circumstance that naturally puts them under enormous stress. It is therefore not surprising that wherever the future of the military is discussed, there is also the question of the Human enhancement comes up; a question that poses special, especially ethical, challenges to military medicine.

The range of what Human enhancement means, is also far in the military field. For example, the US Army has been paying its relatives since 2001 for what is known as refractive surgery, i.e. laser-based correction of the cornea with which, in the best case scenario, ametropia, usually nearsightedness, can be remedied in such a way that the affected people no longer need visual aids such as glasses or contact lenses . Such an intervention in the cornea is still generally regarded as a therapeutic measure. It only reduces the ability to see to a normal state that has been determined in advance. The employer does not (yet) pay for this intervention for the soldiers of the Bundeswehr, although the Military Medical Advisory Board has already spoken out in favor of it.4 We also know that in a not too long time it will be possible to use technological implants, such as nanochips, to increase sensory absorption. Doesn't it make sense, especially soldiers, on whose sensory abilities so much depends, to give priority to such means of improvement?

The other field is the way in which we can cope with stress and pain and suppress fatigue. Even in less serious work areas, many employees help themselves through the day with a little caffeine. The hope that military medics could be used by soldiers in the field of drug use Enhancer Making people more attentive and persevering is understandable against the background of the seriousness of the consequences of mistakes. David N. Kenagy5 says that during the 2003 Iraq war, pilots who took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri had to be in the air for more than 35 hours to Iraq and back, others who flew to Afghanistan even 44 hours . Without help Enhancement-Medication is such a burden not to endure.

The developments of so-called Powered exoskeletonsalthough research in this field has been going on for several decades. This is a kind of mechanical outer skin, similar to the exoskeleton of an insect, in which a motorized or hydraulic system supports the movements of the wearer of this “clothing”. Exoskeletons can help to save energy, increase endurance (and the ability to carry loads) and improve precision. In addition to soldiers, perhaps doctors - including military medical personnel -, especially when performing surgical activities, will in the future rely more on the help of (at least partial) exoskeletons (for example on the arm) when it comes to performing movements with the utmost precision. As with mobile computer technology, one of the weak points of these outer skins today is the permanent power supply. When maintaining such Enhancements Doctors - orthopedists - who also have engineering skills are in demand among soldiers. But is it okay at all for soldiers to allow themselves to be “expanded”, “improved” or “improved” in such a way? Corresponds to Human enhancement our ethical ideas, principles and judgments at all?

Must, should, may Enhancements be?

When dealing ethically with such new developments, we have to distinguish three questions: a) Are Enhancements forbidden? Nick Bostrom calls people who answer yes to this question "bioconservatives" (bioconservatives). b) Are Enhancements allowed? People who answered yes to this question could be referred to as "transhumanists" by another Nick Bostrom phrasetranshumanists) describe. c) Are Enhancements required or mandatory? We can call those who answer this question "bio-optimists". According to the rules of deontic logic, we can use negation to reformulate question c) into a question in the form of a): Is it forbidden that Enhancements not be used?

If we set the consequences of an action as the decisive ethical criterion, an obligation to improve performance is quite obvious. Military action often determines the life and death of people: one's own life, the life of opponents, the life of civilians. Soldiers have to push the limits of their capabilities to get the best results, and if biotechnology can move those limits in a direction that produces better results, then it seems the duty to do so Enhancement downright inevitable. Of course, any long-term damage caused by the Enhancement on the soldiers themselves can be compared with the real or supposed benefit, but since soldiers can be expected to accept certain professional burdens, the burden-benefit calculation may still be in favor of the Enhancements fails. Similar to the debate about armed drones, consequentialist reasoning brings with it a strong preference for further technical development. So it seems that the biooptimists are right and that a bio-conservative position is not tenable at all.

A new normative field is emerging

But it's not that simple after all. Banning technology is almost always futile; To do without them can, however, be an expression of ethical awareness. Such a waiver makes perfect sense when we consider the plethora of unresolved difficulties that Human enhancement poses in the armed forces. So, on the one hand, there is the question of how to avoid that through Enhancement Individual rights of soldiers are violated. In the vast majority of cases, for example, we will consider it ethically necessary to ask the soldiers after they have given their consent to the Enhancement to ask. The bio-optimist, however, has to demand that even if a soldier refuses, one can act in a "paternalistic" manner over him in order to achieve the best possible result. Nevertheless, such an approach would contradict the value judgments that we make of the autonomy of an adult and the respect we owe it. It also appears ethically sensible to request that it be made Enhancements can be reversed. This is certainly the case with exoskeletons, but the step is irreversible even with laser eye surgery.

Enhancements In the case of soldiers, this will also have an impact on their own understanding of roles and possibly on their role-specific duties. So maybe you can think of a soldier who is a Enhancement expect him to take on specific duties as well, one of which a soldier does without Enhancement is spared. But he will perhaps also feel like a soldier elite and regard or treat his comrades with contempt. It is possible that he will also adopt this understanding of the elite - the meaning and justification of which would have to be discussed separately - in his civil life. After all, he also loses certain properties that come from the Enhancement result, for example improved sensory abilities, not with retirement from military service.

Should a practice prevail that the majority or at least a considerable proportion of the soldiers with the discussed Enhancements are equipped, the question arises whether this is not the reason for the rules of the ius in bello need to be readjusted. For example, should there be a gun control regime - a kind of "doping control" - for Enhancements give, or have to be assumed, that soldiers who a Enhancement have become a weapon themselves? In such a case, their use would first have to be checked under international law in accordance with Art. 36 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions. Some international law scholars and military ethicists may argue that soldiers with Enhancement “Contradict the principles of humanity and the demands of public conscience”, as it is called in Martens‘ clause - a formula that brings us back to the starting point and makes us wonder whether Enhancements can be ethically justified.

The list of questions that still seem strange to us today can be expanded. So a scenario is conceivable in which not humans, but animals a certain Enhancement receive. However, such an "improved" animal could then be understood as a biological weapon and therefore excluded from international warfare law. Proliferation problems will undoubtedly also arise, because the use of a technology can never be monopolized in the long term with just one state or a community of states.

Last but not least, the military doctors are aware of the ethical questions that arise around the Human enhancement places affected: If, for example, two soldiers are wounded, one of which may be an expensive one Enhancement has received, for economic reasons it is quite obvious to bring the soldiers with them Enhancement to prefer. But ethically it could be countered that the soldier without Enhancement in some respects did the better job. Military medical personnel are also challenged when it comes to the proper treatment of captured soldiers Enhancement goes. In many cases, some form of “drug withdrawal therapy” may be necessary.

Only one aspect, but a central one

In view of the abundance of questions and inquiries, only a very general aspect can be picked out here to stimulate the ethical discussion. The above-mentioned result, that technological innovation is usually preferable in terms of utility, is not surprising in itself, because the consequentialist thinking applied is itself a technoform use of reason. Ethical thinking, however, does not limit itself to weighing up consequences. Non-finalist aspects can and must also be taken into account. An important aspect of this kind is the freedom of choice in relation to one's own body as a body, not as a mere instrument of a person. We have our own unique relationship with our body. We “have” a body and “are” not a body, but this having is of a different nature than having an external tool such as a knife. A knife is good when it cuts well, says Aristotle. If we need good cuts, we need to sharpen the blade. This Enhancement must be. Using a blunt knife can be dangerous and therefore irresponsible. But the body is not an instrument for a purpose, but rather the expression of our constitution as physical human beings. We do not need - despite all current needs for cosmetic surgery - to optimize our body towards foreign goals. But we are allowed to do so if we do not inappropriately restrict others in the realization of their freedom. Doping in competitive sport, for example, is fraud and therefore always restricts the freedom of others. But doping and Enhancement have in common that there is a serious risk that people actually do Enhancement refuse in humans, through the use of Enhancements being put under social pressure by others (especially in competitive contexts).

Sport and a healthy lifestyle are right and important within reasonable limits. These limits can also be slightly different for soldiers than for people with other professions. But even if the soldier in his or her role as a soldier is required to perform at the highest level, he or she still remains a human being and a corporeal being, which can decide for itself how it develops in its corporeality.A - biooptimistic - duty to Enhancement exaggerates the power of consequence-oriented thinking. In this respect, one can be responsible for or against the Enhancement decide. Other questions, however, are whether the soldier is without Enhancement Should undertake tasks for good reasons of having a Enhancement equipped soldier can better meet, or whether certain Enhancements should be banned. Enhancements can have long-term negative effects on the people concerned, be it through toxic emissions from the material used or through addiction and dependence. In many of the very diverse cases of Human enhancement there are no long-term studies on the effects. This also means that medical professionals who administer improvers like these have to explain the unexplained risks and that the people affected are allowed to say no - including soldiers and military medical personnel. In the case of means, the use of which is presumed to be associated with massive hazards, even a ban must be considered. This is especially true if the dangers are not just the enlightened user of the Enhancements concern, but people who had no influence on the use, such as civilians who are threatened by a soldier who due to a Enhancements "Freaks out".

Military medical personnel are particularly challenged

For military medical professionals, new questions arise and old questions arise anew. The central new question is to what extent they are allowed to participate in such improvements in soldiers. From the old questions that are being raised, I will only single out one that is currently being discussed: Are military doctors - which should be excluded according to their professional ethos - now perhaps an accompanying or even supportive role in acts of torture if they are know the victim of torture because of a Enhancements is almost or completely insensitive to pain? This torture victim with Enhancement is not affected by torture in the way that a victim of torture in a non-enhanced-Condition.6 "In changing human biology, we also may be changing the assumptions behind existing laws of war and even human ethics," writes Patrick Lin in The Atlantic Monthly (2/2012)7. It is possible that the ban on torture has not yet foreseen the possible pain resistance that can be achieved through biotechnological means, so that legal questions in this regard would have to be discussed again. Perhaps this possibility is also brought into play by those who would like to curtail the ban on torture anyway, in order to get closer to their goal. The question, namely, how Enhancements really work will be a very long-term empirical research task, and it is more than questionable whether we should quickly turn away from established ethical standards on the basis of effect-related arguments. But even if we had such studies, there remains a much deeper problem: Possibly postpone Enhancements - especially neurological - that which we understand by action authorship. In this regard, ethical standards could indeed come under enormous pressure. For example, with what right should a soldier still be able to be held responsible for a war crime if he isEnhancement acts almost remotely? You have to counteract this in advance and explain to the soldiers that handing over the authorship is not itself a responsible act. Soldiers should not consent to this disclosure, and military medics should not help with it, if we do not want our ethical field to collapse entirely.