The Nature of Weapons Research

  • John ForgeEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Ethics book series (BRIEFSETHIC)


In order the make the case against weapons research we need to know what weapons research is, and the aim of this chapter is to explain what it is. There is no need to come up with an absolutely precise definition which includes every instance of weapons research and excludes everything else, a kind of ‘demarcation criterion’. We do, however, have a choice as to how we understand “research”, and this will become clear after I have introduced two examples. One of these, the Manhattan Project, is familiar to many, at least in outline, and has been the subject of much writing and discussion. The other, the development of the torsion catapult in the fourth century BCE, is much less familiar. I have chosen these examples for several reasons. The first is that I want to suggest that weapons research is not a new or recent phenomenon, but has a very long pedigree—this suggestion is a consequence of how I think we should understand research. The Manhattan Project was the beginning of the nuclear age which led to the nuclear-armed world we live in today, with enough nuclear weapons to extinguish much of sentient life on the planet. No more need be said about its relevance to the present discussion.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History and Philosophy of ScienceSydney UniversitySydneyAustralia

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