Ethics of Nuclear Deterrence – a time to decide
Nuclear weapons are the easiest of weapons to detect and therefore ultimately to control, but if we are to banish them from this world, forever, we must see that they are rejected by all of humanity for reasons that can never change.
They are indeed militarily useless, terribly expensive and hideously dangerous. But it is only by a universal moral rejection based on a new understanding, a realization that what we have contemplated in “deterrence” is alien to our humanity and totally inconsistent with the standards that we live by, that we could be sure that the world would never go back to them.
This is a moral judgement. But we each need to know where we stand. Now, with the UN Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) coming into legal force and governments of nuclear weapons states set to ignore it, putting themselves at odds with many of their own people, is the time for you to decide.
Here is a way to explore, rationally, the logic of nuclear ethics:
The Nuclear Morality Flowchart
Everyone in the world is threatened by the existence of nuclear weapons. Has anyone the right to wield such destructive power? Everyone has a right to ask this question, and those who live in countries possessing nuclear weapons have a duty to answer it. It has to be a personal moral decision, because if you accept nuclear weapons for your defence, then morally you hold them in your own hands.
The Morality of the Nuclear Deterrent Flowchart is configured as a ‘decision tree’ to help people decide where they stand and to make national decision makers more accountable.
Nuclear weapons are deployed for various reasons but the scope of the decision flowchart is limited to the morality of their role in a deterrence mode, not because we believe that this is effective or is their only real intended use, but because it is the basis of all serious attempts at a moral justification of their possession.
The flowchart is accompanied by supplementary notes on the questions, accessible as a separate document or by direct links from the interactive version. These background notes also include an explanation of its rationale, method and morally neutral format.
The chart is available here to download in several languages. Enquire via the contact form for printed copies. An on-line interactive version, available in English and Chinese, enables you to resolve the ethics of nuclear deterrence, for yourself, right here, right now.
Download a copy
- Nuclear morality flowchart – English version (PDF, 50kb)
- Background and informative notes – English version (PDF, 53kb)
- Nuclear morality flowchart – Dutch version (PDF, 50kb)
- Background and informative notes – Dutch version (PDF, 53kb)
- Nuclear morality flowchart – Farsi version (PDF, 327kb)
- Background and informative notes – Farsi version (PDF, 127kb)
Our German translation is awaiting verification
We look for comments, constructive feedback, news of applications and equiries on any aspect. And if you think you could help with promotion, translation or more ideas for applications please enquire via the contact form.