As a society, we appear to embrace the idea that death is inevitable, and that inflicting it on another is sometimes justified. War, abortion and capital punishment are three examples that come to mind. The latter two form a convenient litmus test for liberal vs. conservative labels. Liberals generally support abortion but oppose capital punishment, while conservatives do the opposite. The recent kerfuffle over executions highlights our collective unease with putting these ideas into practice. With war, the same basic issues arise. Technology may soon come to the rescue, in the form of autonomous drones that can take the human element out of killing. The dangerous high-stress environment of the battlefield will no longer lead to targeting errors, collateral damage, or PTSD. Before long, we should be able to charge the batteries, flip the switch, and return to the comfort of our philosophical debates about killing another human.
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