Nuclear weapons and morality: on the fairness of

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Transcript Nuclear weapons and morality: on the fairness of

Reasoning on the morality of
nuclear welfare:
an introduction
December 20th 2005
Luciana Garbayo
Summary - Three parts:
1) On pre-moral reasoning:
– Main facts and consequences of nuclear warfare.
Recent history and strategy considerations on
nuclear warfare.
2) Moral reasoning and nuclear war:
– Just war tradition;
– Realism;
– Pacifism.
3) Our contribution: class deliberation
– Exercise: adapting Rawl’s original position of
equality for reasoning on nuclear warfare
1) On pre-moral reasoning:
the state-of-facts
Main facts and consequences of nuclear
• Game-theory before the n-bomb: win-lose or
win-win games (the first one, characteristic of
war activity (just or unjust), the second one,
characteristic of peace/diplomacy)
• Nuclear bomb development - nuclear war
heading to nuclear winter - development of
lose-lose game thus the emergence of new
rules - end of the win-lose game for
• Exception: games against players who
have nothing to lose - ex, Kamikases;
Jihad fighters. They act irrationally from
a game-theory point of view - there is a
failure of strategy if the opponent has
nothing to lose.
• WWII, Manhattan Project: uranium
bomb - Hiroshima - August 6, 1945;
plutonium bomb - Nagasaki - August 9,
• Nuclear arms race - two super-powers
US, Soviet Union: Cold War state-ofaffairs.
• Game-theory: new rules of the game Emergence of nuclear deterrence strategy:
the history of using nuclear force (as in
Japan) and the projection of its power to kill
all humanity deters the players to escalate
the aggression.
International Humanitarian
Law - Treaties & Documents
• “There are four Geneva Conventions, signed August 12,
1949, and the two additional Protocols of June 8, 1977.
• Convention I For the Amelioration of the Condition of the
Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Geneva,
12 August 1949: Sets forth the protections for members
of the armed forces who become wounded or sick.
• Convention II ハFor the Amelioration of the Condition of
Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed
Forces at Sea,Geneva, 12 August 1949: Extends these
protections to wounded, sick and shipwrecked members
of naval forces.
• Convention III Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of
War, Geneva, 12 August 1949ハlists the rights of
prisoners of war.
• Convention IVハ Relative to the Protection of Civilian
Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949: Deals
with the protection of the civilian population in times of
• Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12
August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of
International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977: Extends
protection to victims of wars against racist regimes,
wars of self determination, and against alien
• Protocol II ハAdditional to the Geneva Conventions of 12
August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of
Non-International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977:
Extends protection to victims of internal conflicts in
which an armed opposition controls enough territory to
enable them to carry out sustained military operations.”
source: society of professional
2) Moral reasoning and
(nuclear) war
– ‘Just war’ tradition;
– Realism (or ‘militarism’);
– Pacifism.
Source: Briand Orend ‘ War’ at
The dominant view:
‘Just war’ theory
• War can be morally justified in some
• The moral agent of war are the states
and they may ethically use mass
violence for just reasons.
– World War II, on the Allied side, is the used
example of a just and good war.
• Since there are just wars, there is a
development of laws to regulate it and
to distinguish when a war may be said
just, considering three levels of
• 1) jus ad bellum - justice of resorting to war
in the first place has to be morally justified;
• 2) jus in bello - justice of conduct within war,
after it has begun has to be morally justified;
• 3) jus post bellum - justice of peace
agreements and the termination phase of war
has to be morally justified.
• Skepticism about the application at all of moral
concepts, such as justice, to warfare.
• Power seeking and national security motivate states
during wartime for making the best of its
• Morality of warfare is a nonsensical notion regarding
global politics. The strongest should prevail and each
country should tend to defend its vital interests in
security, influence over others, and economic growth
and not to moral ideals that might hurt its interests.
• Philosophy that is popular among social scientists,
and have one of its most famous proponents in
Macchiavelli and Hobbes.
Descriptive realism
• States, as a matter of fact, either do not
for reasons of motivation, or cannot for
reasons of competitive struggle, behave
morally. Thus moral discourse
surrounding interstate conflict is empty.
• States are simply not motivated by
morality: it's all about power, security
and national interest.
Prescriptive realism
• States have to behave amorally in the
international arena for the sake of selfprotection.
• Avoidance of being exploited by its
morality or of offending other moral
systems are major concerns in
• Moral concepts not only can but ought to be
applied to international affairs.
• The question on the morality of war is
granted, but the answer is to deny grounds
for it.
• The solutions are thought as a resort to other
means other than war for solving conflicts.
Consequentialist pacifism - justification based
on the principle of utility: the benefits accruing
from war can never outweigh the costs of
fighting it;
Deontological pacifism - justification is based
on categorical imperatives (a priori moral law,
based on reason): the activity of war is
intrinsically wrong, for it violates the duty of
not killing human beings.
3) Our contribution: class
An exercise in public deliberation, adapting
Rawl’s ‘original position of equality’ thought
We will deliberate on nuclear warfare as if we
were states connected in a globalized world.
General Proposal of the
1 - To form at least three discussion groups in
• First group: Just war proponents deliberate
on a set of rules regarding nuclear war;
• Realists proponents deliberate on a set of
rules regarding nuclear war;
• Pacifists proponents deliberate on a set of
rules regarding nuclear war.
2 - The groups present their positions and
debate among each other.
Nuclear warfare and justice: a
proposal for deliberation
• Within your group orientation (just war theory,
pacifist or realist), imagine you are a
representative of a country in the position to
deliberate about the uses of nuclear power
with other representatives from all over the
world, but you in fact do not know if your
country will have it or not, you don’t know how
wealthy or powerful your state is, if you
geography is privileged, if you have allies,
and what is going to result if you are the least
Important methodological
• This is an adaptation of Rawl’s ‘original position of
equality’, the idea that we should deliberate and
make rational choices towards justice among the
participants without knowing what amount of benefit
will be our share after the system is in place. The
point is to make people think about benefits without
advocating for their immediate interests, implying a
deeper understanding of fairness regarding justice.
• General concerns for you to reflect
beforehand: what kind of rules should you
fight for, considering you might not have
nuclear power to bargain in future conflicts?
What kind of restrictions and control should
you vote for? Should anybody have it?
Should information be restricted?
Questions to guide the debate
within the groups:
1 - Is it just or unjust to use nuclear weapons in war? What about
its use in extreme cases of aggression as against Nazism and
other non-compassionate, non international law abiding
1.1 - If it is just to use it, when would that use be justified?
1.2 - If it is not just:
1.2.1 - how to surely prevent a nuclear war if you are a pacifist? Do
the consequentialist or the deontological approaches entail
different responses in terms of regulations?
1.3 - if it is maybe not just, or maybe neither just nor unjust: how to
regulate it if you are a realist? Do the descriptive and
prescriptive approaches entail different responses in terms of
A suggestion within the final
debate among groups
• Now we distribute nuclear power to some of
you - what does it change to be dominant in
the game? Does it change anything?
• What kind of regulations do you want to
reinforce if you are the weakest or the
strongest in the game, as a just war theorist,
a pacifist, or a realist?
Cited Bibliography
• John Rawls, A Theory of Justice Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1971
• Society of professional
Brian Orend, ‘War’ in Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy at
• Source for educators: