Human dignity and lethal autonomous weapon systems: A Christian ethical positioning from a Catholic point of view


  • Elmar Nass Lehrstuhl für Christliche Sozialwissenschaften und gesellschaftlicher Dialog, Kölner Hochschule für Katholische Theologie, Cologne (DE)



acceptability, meaningful human control, lethal autonomous weapon systems, human-machine relationship


This article analyses the ethical debate over the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) by exploring, from a Catholic perspective, how Christian ethics can position itself in this discussion. Since humanity will not be able to avoid wars in the future, ideas of justified use of armed force (in self-defense), but also of appropriateness of defensive weapon systems, remain important issues. Based on the so-called ‘protection rationale,’ proponents hold that autonomous weapon systems (AWS) can shield one’s own forces while reducing the damage inflicted upon the enemy. Opponents seek to ban AWS categorically, especially LAWS. The moral dilemmas and ethical dimensions involved make LAWS a genuine subject for technology assessment in terms of the technology’s consequences for humanity, dignity, and coexistence.


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How to Cite

Nass E. Human dignity and lethal autonomous weapon systems: A Christian ethical positioning from a Catholic point of view. TATuP [Internet]. 2022 Dec. 16 [cited 2024 Feb. 25];31(3):58-64. Available from: