Defensive, Deterrent and ‘Humane’ Weapons

  • John Forge
Chapter
Part of the Research Ethics Forum book series (REFF, volume 1)

Abstract

I now claim to have established that weapons research is morally wrong. So it is not something that an impartial moral person can engage in without reflection, reflection which should lead to some appropriate response. The reason for this, as we have seen at some length, is that WR provides the means to harm and that harming is morally wrong. But we have also seen that there are two general sorts of responses, types of justification, that weapons researcher S can give to those who ask for an account of what she does and why she should not face blame. In this chapter, I will consider the first of these attempted justifications, namely that S is designing the means to defend, to defend her own country, other friendly non-aggressive states, etc., by designing weapons that can only fulfil this function. So this justification will only work if there are special classes of weapons that only prevent, deter or perhaps reduce harms. If there are, then S can claim that the weapons she was designing when her country, or another friendly state, was under attack, or threat of attack, were defensive, designed to prevent harm to her fellow citizens. But granted that the weapons are ‘inherently defensive’, then she could make this claim at any time or place: the circumstances would not matter, the weapons by their very nature are defensive and hence their only role would be to prevent harm. The type of justification is therefore what I have called ahistorical.

Keywords

Defensive Role Grand Strategy Cruise Missile Lethal Force Nuclear Deterrence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Coleman, S. 2010. Discrimination and non-lethal weapons: Issues for the future. Paper presented at protecting civilians during violent conflict. The Australian National University, 25–26 Aug 2010.Google Scholar
  2. Fotion, N. 1990. Military ethics. Stanford: Hoover Press.Google Scholar
  3. Gray, C. 1993. Weapons don’t make war. Lawrence: Kansas University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Heuser, B. 2000. The bomb. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  5. Jervis, R. 1978. Cooperation under the security dilemma. World Politics 30: 167–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Liddel Hart, B. 1973. History of the second world war. London: Pan.Google Scholar
  7. Lieber, K. 2005. War and the engineers. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Luttwak, E. 1987. Strategy: The logic of war and peace. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Lynn, J. 1995. The trace italienne and the growth of armies: The French case. In The military revolution debate, ed. C. Rogers. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  10. Mearsheimer, J. 1988. Liddell Hart and the weight of history. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Rappert, B. 2002. Towards an understanding of non-lethality. In The future of non-lethal weapons, ed. N. Lewer. London: Cass.Google Scholar
  12. Rodin, D. 2002. War and self-defence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Walzer, M. 1978. Just and unjust wars. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Forge
    • 1
  1. 1.History and Philosophy of ScienceThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations