No Justification for Weapons Research

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


If there can be no ahistorical justification for weapons research, then all attempts at justification must be historical: they must refer to the situations and circumstances in which weapons are actually used. In view of the general condition for all such justification, in terms of harm prevention, it must be the case that the harms caused by the use of the weapons produced must also prevent harm, and moreover, the harms caused must not be excessive and the harms prevented must at least be comparable to, and preferably much less than, those caused. But the problem here is that weapons designers cannot know what is going to happen in the future when it comes to the ways the weapons they design are used (if indeed they are ever used). If they cannot know what they must know in order for their work to be justified, then justification of weapons research will not in fact be possible. I am going to spend this chapter and the next making good this claim. If I am able to do so, then I will have shown that weapons research is never morally permissible: that is to say, in no circumstances and under no conditions is it ever morally acceptable to undertake weapons research. The case against weapons research will have been made.


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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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