, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 57–75

Killing `Without the Distressing Preliminaries': Scientists' Defence of the British Biological Warfare Programme

  • Brian Balmer

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015009613250

Cite this article as:
Balmer, B. Minerva (2002) 40: 57. doi:10.1023/A:1015009613250


This article presents historical cases in which Britishscientists, principally scientific advisors, have attempted to defendresearch on biological weapons. Although the historical record is scant,there is a degree of continuity in their justifications, and a number ofthemes can be identified. It was argued, that biological weaponsresearch is morally justified because it produces humane weapons; thatit is no different from medical or other research; and that it is beingperformed for defensive purposes. It is argued that this defence isdirected primarily towards other scientists working on germ warfare, andwas formed part of the `moral economy' of that secretcommunity.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Balmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Science and Technology StudiesUniversity College London, Gower StreetLondonUK