A Theory of the Drone

Remote war is a war of human machines against the human body. One side loses people; the other side loses toys. All that is left is the shooting and dying and toys don’t die.

Chamayou, G. (2015). A Theory of the Drone. The New Press.

Touted as a “poignant and sharply-argued polemic against drone warfare,” Gregoire Chamayou’s Drone Theory has firmly embedded itself in the bookshelves and argumentation of critical theorists. Chamayou, a philosopher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, skilfully traverses a broad landscape of political, legal and moral thought, taking in everyone from Marx to Camus in his case against the use of armed drones in combat today. In holistically addressing the techniques and tactics of remote warfare, the ethos and psyche it involves, the abstract philosophies of killing and the corporeality of war, Chamayou leaves no stone unturned in his forensic examination of the drone. In doing so he paints a picture of not just a weapon, but a policy. No technological solution, he argues, can overcome what the age-old and fundamentally socio-political dilemmas of the Just War tradition. First published in 2011, when remote warfare (and its study) was in its infancy but rapidly gathering pace, Chamayou’s book was a timely contribution to the field then and remains enduringly relevant today.


Chamayou, G., 2015. A Theory of the Drone. The New Press.