Reilly Center "Weapons Ethics" Course Featured in NYT

Author: Jessica Baron

Maj. Gen. Robert Latiff (Ret.), an adjunct professor for Notre Dame's John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, was featured in the New York Times on Saturday, February 8th, 2014 for his course "The Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technologies." In the article, author Samuel G. Freedman, the religion editor for the Times, follows Dr. Latiff's path from decorated major general and Distinguished Service Medal recipient in the U.S. Air Force to adjunct professor in the Reilly Center.


A "triple-domer" (receiving his Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees at Notre Dame), Dr. Latiff returned to campus in 2010 to propose a course that would grapple with issues in the ethics of warfare, from antiquity to the present. Then-director Gerald McKenny offered Latiff a home at the Reilly Center, which would spawn a research initiative called "Emerging Technologies of National Security and Intelligence" (ETNSI).

Latiff is now co-teaching the "weapons ethics" course for the third time, this semester with History and Philosophy of Science PhD candidate Charles Pence. Students in the course read a combination of philosophy, history, and policy, as well as discussions of emerging military weapons and tactics such as drones, cyberwarfare, robotics, data mining, and soldier enhancement. Click here to see the current syllabus.

The NYT story highlights the complex set of questions students in the course are forced to grapple with, as well as Dr. Latiff's continued efforts to start a discussion outside of academia, mentioning his 2013 Wall Street Journal op-ed about "emerging robot armies" (co-authored with Reilly Center advisory board member Patrick McCloskey) and his work on a recent National Academy of Science's "Committee on Ethical and Societal Implications of Advances in Militarily Significant Technologies that are Rapidly Changing and Increasingly Globally Accessible." This committee produced a report earlier this year titled Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security: A Framework for Addressing Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues, which will be the subject of a Reilly Center conference at Notre Dame in April.

Click here for the original NYT article.

Click here to see Dr. Latiff featured in a "What Would You Fight For?" commercial, which aired on NBC in November 2013.

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