Alex Leveringhaus

Dr Alex Leveringhaus

Lecturer in Political Theory; Co-Director, Centre for International Intervention
+44 (0)1483 689197
32 AP 01
Mondays, 1000-1200; Wednesdays 1000-1200


University roles and responsibilities

  • Exams and Assessments Officer


    Research interests


    Postgraduate research supervision




    Leveringhaus, Alex (2016), Ethics and Autonomous Weapons (Palgrave)

    Leveringhaus, Alex (2016), ‘What so bad about Killer Robots?’, Journal of Applied Philosophy.

    Alex Leveringhaus (2021)Autonomous weapons and the future of armed conflict, In: Lethal Autonomous Weaponspp. 175-188 Oxford University Press

    This chapter considers how autonomous weapons systems (AWS) impact the armed conflicts of the future. Conceptually, the chapter argues that AWS should not be seen as on a par with precision weaponry, which makes them normatively problematic. Against this background, the chapter considers the relationship between AWS and two narratives, The Humane Warfare Narrative and the Excessive Risk Narrative, which have been used to theorize contemporary armed conflict. AWS, the chapter contends, are unlikely to usher in an era of humane warfare. Rather, they are likely to reinforce existing trends with regard to the imposition of excessive risk on noncombatants in armed conflict. Future conflicts in which AWS are deployed are thus likely to share many characteristics of the risk-transfer wars of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The chapter concludes by putting these abstract considerations to the test in the practical context of military intervention.

    Alex Leveringhaus (2022)Morally Repugnant Weaponry? Ethical Responses to the Prospect of Autonomous Weapons, In: The Cambridge Handbook of Responsible Artificial Intelligence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives pp. 475-487 Cambridge University Press

    In this chapter, political philosopher Alex Leveringhaus asks whether Lethal Autonomous Weapons (AWS) are morally repugnant and whether this entails that they should be prohibited by international law. To this end, Leveringhaus critically surveys three prominent ethical arguments against AWS: firstly, AWS create ‘responsibility gaps’; secondly, that their use is incompatible with human dignity; and ,thirdly, that AWS replace human agency with artificial agency. He argues that some of these arguments fail to show that AWS are morally different from more established weapons. However, the author concludes that AWS are currently problematic due to their lack of predictability.

    Alexander Leveringhaus (2021)Beyond Military Humanitarian Intervention: From Assassination to Election Hacking?, In: Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence5(1)pp. 109-128 Trivent Publishing

    This paper critically examines the implications of technology for the ethics of intervention and vice versa, especially regarding (but not limited to) the concept of military humanitarian intervention (MHI). To do so, it uses two recent pro-interventionist proposals as lenses through which to analyse the relationship between interventionism and technology. These are A. Altman and C.H. Wellman’s argument for the assassination of tyrannical leaders, and C. Fabre’s case for foreign electoral subversion. Existing and emerging technologies, the paper contends, play an important role in realising these proposals. This illustrates the potential of technology to facilitate interventionist practices that transcend the traditional concept of MHI, with its reliance on kinetic force and large-scale military operations. The question, of course, is whether this is normatively desirable. Here, the paper takes a critical view. While there is no knockdown argument against either assassination or electoral subversion for humanitarian purposes, both approaches face similar challenges, most notably regarding public accountability, effectiveness, and appropriate regulatory frameworks. The paper concludes by making alternative suggestions for how technology can be utilised to improve the protection of human rights. Overall, the paper shows that an engagement with technology is fruitful and necessary for the ethics of intervention.

    Amelia Hadfield, Alex Leveringhaus (2023)Autonomous weaponry and IR theory: conflict and cooperation in the age of AI, In: Handbook on the Politics and Governance of Big Data and Artificial Intelligencepp. 167-187 Edward Elgar Publishing

    Over the last decade or so, interest in Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) has grown among academics, policy makers, and campaigners. The debate, however, has been dominated by international lawyers, ethicists, and technologists at the expense of other analytical lenses. This chapter uses International Relations Theory (IRT) in order to provide a fresh perspective, focussing on realist, liberal, and constructivist approaches. Beginning with a conceptual discussion of the nature of LAWS, the chapter uses IRT to assess the potential impact of LAWS on the ability and willingness of states to cooperate under conditions of anarchy. The chapter concludes that while established IRTs offer useful insights into the impact of LAWS on wider international security, LAWS also push the conceptual boundaries of IRT. Over time, IRT might have to adapt itself to deal with the practical consequences of the introduction of LAWS.