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University of Pennsylvania

MICHAEL C- HOROWITZ September, 7th at 17:00


Title: Morally Opposed? A Theory of Public Attitudes and Emerging Military Technologies


Abstract: Technology does not exist in a vacuum; it is mediated by individual and institutional choices about development and use. In the case of autonomous weapon systems (AWS), which select military targets without human involvement, the global policy debate emphasizes morally-driven public opposition. However, when faced with new, still-developing technology, public attitudes may reflect uncertainty about potential effectiveness as much as moral qualms. We theorize that the interaction between effectiveness and morality generates four ideal type reactions to emerging technologies: operational outcome, moral outcome, moral instinct, and technology skeptics. We test our theory through survey experiments from two waves of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. First, we establish the persistence of moral and effectiveness concerns in attitudes towards AWS. We then develop and validate a new framework for understanding the distribution of opposition with implications for attitude change and the political costs associated with emerging technologies.


Bio: Michael C. Horowitz is professor of political science and the interim director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. He received the 2017 Karl Deutsch Award from the International Studies Association, presented annually to a scholar under age 40 who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the study of international relations and peace research. Professor Horowitz is the co-author of the book, Why Leaders Fight, and the author of The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics. His research interests include technology and global politics, military innovation, the role of leaders in international politics, and forecasting. He has published in a wide array of peer reviewed journals, as well as more popular outlets such as the New York Times andPolitico. Professor Horowitz previously worked for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the Department of Defense. He is affiliated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Center for a New American Security. He is also a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has held fellowships at the Weatherhead Center, Olin Institute, and Belfer Center at Harvard, where he received his PhD in Government. Professor Horowitz received his BA in political science from Emory University.