On the “Morality” of Nuclear Weapons

There is an interesting post over at ArmsControlWonk entitled “Morality and the Bomb.” Key question posed in the article:

“One notable aspect of the current abolitionist wave is that it is powered by national interest arguments, not moral considerations. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?”

My response:

“It is not a good thing or a bad thing, but a logical thing. Morality is an evolved trait that exists because it promoted our survival at a time when we existed as small communities of hunter/gatherers. Attempts to apply it to the nuclear weapons debate are logically absurd. The basic issue here is very simple. Is it desirable to survive? If so, how should we deal with nuclear weapons?”

This is a good example of an instance in which it’s necessary to step back from morality and think. Morality has a great deal more to do with emotion that logic. It is subjective, and exists only in the minds that host it. Other than that, it has no objective existence in itself. It exists as an evolved trait of our species because it promoted our survival. It did not evolve in response to the threat of nuclear weapons. Therefore, assuming one actually does want to survive, it would be illogical to apply it to the nuclear weapons debate. This is an instance in which one must disconnect the issue from moral considerations, and consider logically what course of action will best promote one’s survival. Survival, after all, explains why morality exists to begin with. To the extent that it doesn’t promote our survival, it is pointless. There can be nothing more immoral than failing to survive.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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