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The Proceedings of the War and Morality Symposium held at United States Military Academy, West Point, New York on 1-2 May 1980,

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There are two major questions about the morality of nuclear warfare. One is Under what conditions is it morally acceptable to become involved in military combat of such seriousness that the use of nuclear weapons might be considered If the answer to this question were, Never, then the second question need not arise. But, I believe it would be agreed that there are circumstances in which it is permissible to become involved in such a war the circumstances of World War II are an example. Such conditions exist if there is a clear threat to a decent, civilized way of life for a large number of people. So, the second question is If a nation is involved in a serious war, under what conditions is it permissible morally for it to employ nuclear weapons It is the second question which I propose to address. Actually, I shall address only part of this second question I shall concern myself only with the employment of tactical nuclear weapons. I mean by a tactical nuclear weapon one of comparatively low yield e.g., one kiloton, capable of being accurately directed at targets a short distance away e.g., by an artillery shell, and used for combat purposes only, not one employed to strike at targets of more long-range significance, such as factories and I shall assume only defensive employment is contemplated. I wish to inquire when such weapons are morally permissible.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Nuclear Warfare

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