The Pros And Cons Of Nuclear Deterrence

2105 Words 8 Pages
Is nuclear deterrence morally acceptable?

The reason for the controversy surrounding moral acceptability in nuclear deterrence, stems from the devastation nuclear weapons can cause, including high civilian death tolls. This creates a dilemma for nuclear deterrence because of the nature of deterrence itself. It is important to understand at this point that deterrence, by nature, is only effective when the threat is credible. The state has to be absolutely prepared to carry out the deterrence threat, which is why moral acceptability is brought into question. The Wrongful Intentions Principle, a philosophical construct, deems it wrong to intend to do something which is wrong . Philosophical standpoint is important, because of the close link nuclear
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Schelling’s analysis of the Brinkmanship Curve promotes an especially aggressive and irrational model for nuclear deterrence, which is morally unacceptable. Schelling writes, "Brinkmanship is thus the deliberate creation of a recognizable risk of war, a risk that one does not completely control." Whilst there is a necessity for a ‘recognisable risk of war’ to ensure credibility, a risk that one does not have control of is not a rational strategy, and therefore does not constitute a morally acceptable deterrence. Deterrence is only morally acceptable when the ethical reasons for the deterrence are the priority. Joseph Nye’s consequentialist point of view opposes Schelling’s irrationality, writing; “moral reasoning about nuclear weapons must pay primary attention to consequences.” Schelling’s Brinkmanship model aims to push the enemy as close to the nuclear brink as possible. By not paying primary attention to the consequences of nuclear deterrence, Schelling advocates risking MAD, which is morally unacceptable. This in turn reinforces that deterrence is not necessarily morally acceptable by default, but it must be tailored in such a fashion that moral acceptability is the primary concern. This can only be achieved if self-imposed restraints are effectively …show more content…
This is because in self-defence, the state is protecting the lives of its population; a morally justifiable standpoint. Kavka uses the main consequentialist goals as justification for nuclear deterrence. He proposes three primary goals “1. Nuclear war prevention. 2. Minimizing the damage suffered by humankind in a nuclear war. 3. Preservation of economic resources for non-military use.” These three points serve as evidence of moral maintenance, proving that a consequentialist approach to nuclear deterrence can be morally acceptable. Further analysis reveals that Kavka importantly looks at the moral implications on a much broader spectrum, incorporating the economic element. This is important because w focusing on what is morally acceptable, too often analysis pivots on the ‘worst case’ scenario, which is loss of human life. However, it can also be morally wrong to a lesser extent to impact the quality of life. Consequentialism is good at assessing moral acceptability because the primary focus is on the quality of human life, based on the consequence of an action. This paper interprets that deterrence must be justified in order for it to be morally acceptable. It must not be excessive and it must be used in self-defence. Consequentialism addresses these

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