Cyberwar and just war theory


Cyberwar is increasingly common in the landscape of global conflict, and represents a dramatic shift away from conventional means of fighting war and toward an entirely new landscape. Coinciding with this shift has been a view amongst some academics that cyberwar represents a ‘new’ type of war with new ethical requirements which the traditional and widely accepted view known as ‘Just War Theory’ is unable to address. It is likely that this debate will grow and continue as cyberwar becomes increasingly prominent in military discussions. This paper contributes to that growing debate by arguing against the ‘new war’ view of cyberwar and just war. I will argue that just war theory is adequately equipped to explain the new challenge of cyberwar, and that although cyberwar requires novel applications of just war theory, this neither generates any need for a new theory, nor does it demonstrate that cyberwar is a new kind of war. I will conclude with some remarks about how existing just war theory might best be applied to the unusual challenges of cyberwar.


just war theory, cyberwar, military ethics, cyberattack, Dipert, military, war, Stuxnet

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