I'm a scientist. The results of my research may generate technologies that could potentially be used in both and offensive and defensive military applications. These same technologies could potentially help people as well.
Here are two examples: (1) My work could potentially create odor-sensing devices to target "enemies" and blow them up, but the same work could aid land-mine detection and removal. (2) My work could help build warrior robots, but it could also help build better prosthetics for amputees.
For any given project, I have to decide which agency(ies) my lab will take money from. I do not want to decide based on the name of the agency alone: DARPA has funded projects that helped amputees and killed no one, while I would bet (but do not know for sure) that some work sponsored by the NSF has ultimately been used in military operations. So I'd like to base my decision on something more than the agency acronym.
How can I start to get my head around this? What sorts of questions should I be asking myself and others to get a better handle on the ethical issues involved? What should I be reading? What kinds of *concrete* steps can I take to ensure that my research does more good than harm, regardless of where my funds come from? Open, peer-reviewed publication (instead of secret reports) seems like a good start, but I'd like more ideas.
A slightly more abstract question: If my funds come from an agency that [I feel] does significant evil, is my work -- even if used for more good than evil -- officially tainted? Which philosophers have something useful to say about this question in a useful, practical way?