Immoral Risks: A Deontological Critique of Nuclear Deterrence: DOUGLAS P. LACKEY

Social Philosophy and Policy 3 (1):154-175 (1985)
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I. Beyond Utilitarianism In the summer of 1982, I published an article called “Missiles and Morals,” in which I argued on utilitarian grounds that nuclear deterrence in its present form is not morally justifiable. The argument of “Missiles and Morals” compared the most likely sort of nuclear war to develop under nuclear deterrence with the most likely sort of nuclear war to develop under American unilateral nuclear disaramament. For a variety of reasons, I claimed diat the number of casualties in a two-sided nuclear war developing under DET would be at least fifteen times greater than the number of casualties in a one-sided nuclear attack developing under UND. If one assumes that human lives lost or saved is the principal criterion by which nuclear weapons policies should be measured, it follows that DET is morally superior to UND on utilitarian grounds only if the chance of a two-sided nuclear war under DET is more than fifteen times less dian the chance of a one-sided nuclear attack under UND. Since I did not believe that the chance of nuclear war under deterrence is fifteen times less than the chance of nuclear war under unilateral nuclear disarmament, I inferred diat utilitaranism failed to justify DET. Indeed, on utilitarian grounds, DET stood condemned.



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Douglas Lackey
Baruch College (CUNY)

Citations of this work

On Defense by Nuclear Deterrence.Jan Narveson - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 12:195-211.
On Defense by Nuclear Deterrence.Jan Narveson - 1986 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (sup1):195-211.

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References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Just and Unjust Wars.Michael Walzer - 1977 - New York: Basic Books.
On Doing Good: The Right and the Wrong Way.James A. Montmarquet - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):439-455.
Unilateral Versus Mutual Disarmament.Russell Hardin - 1983 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (3):236-254.

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