Gyges, drones, invisibility, impunity

In classical mythology Gyges was a shepherd who discovered a magical ring that could make him invisible.  Armed with his new power, Gyges eventually killed the king, married the queen and seized the throne.  ‘Invisibility’, [Grégoire] Chamayou notes, ‘conferred upon him a kind of invulnerability.’  In Plato’s Republic the story is used to ask searching questions about virtue and justice: what happens to morality, to virtue, if it becomes possible to evade responsibility for one’s actions?

The dilemma is no longer confined to the realm of story-telling or philosophical speculation, Chamayou argues, because the thought-experiment has been realised through the political technology of the drone.  The modern answer to Plato’s question is now all too clear: invisibility produces not only invulnerability but also impunity.

via geographical imaginations | war, space and security. August 8, 2013

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