Can a Soldier Say No to an Enhancing Intervention?

Sahar Latheef, Adam Henschke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Technological advancements have provided militaries with the possibility to enhance human performance and to provide soldiers with better warfighting capabilities. Though these technologies hold significant potential, their use is not without cost to the individual. This paper explores the complexities associated with using human cognitive enhancements in the military, focusing on how the purpose and context of these technologies could potentially undermine a soldier's ability to say no to these interventions. We focus on cognitive enhancements and their ability to also enhance a soldier's autonomy (i.e., autonomy-enhancing technologies). Through this lens, we explore situations that could potentially compel a soldier to accept such technologies and how this acceptance could impact rights to individual autonomy and informed consent within the military. In this examination, we highlight the contextual elements of vulnerability-institutional and differential vulnerability. In addition, we focus on scenarios in which a soldier's right to say no to such enhancements can be diminished given the special nature of their work and the significance of making better moral decisions. We propose that though in some situations, a soldier may be compelled to accept said enhancements; with their right to say no diminished, it is not a blanket rule, and safeguards ought to be in place to ensure that autonomy and informed consent are not overridden.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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