Accession Number:

ADA222692

Title:

An Analysis of the Morality of Intention in Nuclear Deterrence, with Special Reference to Final Retaliation

Descriptive Note:

Doctoral thesis,

Corporate Author:

AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

1990-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

228.0

Abstract:

Quite apart from its apparent political obsolescence, the policy of nuclear deterrence is vulnerable to attack for its seemingly obvious immorality. Nuclear war is blatantly immoral, and nuclear deterrence requires a genuine intention to resort to the nuclear retaliation which would precipitate such a war. Therefore, since it is wrong to intend that which is wrong to do, deterrence is immoral. This thesis seeks to examine the nature of the deterrent intention as a means of verifying the soundness of the above deontological argument. This examination is carried out by first suggesting an acceptable notion of intention in general and then, after analysing the views of deterrent intention by other writers, proceeding to demonstrate the uniqueness of that intention. Having done this, and having explored the possibility that deterrence need not contain a genuine intention to retaliate, the thesis moves on to suggest and defend a moral principle which states that endeavours requiring the formation of an immoral intention may nevertheless be moral. Called the Principle of Double Intention and based on the Principle of Double Effect, it offers a method for the moral assessment of agents who form immoral intentions within larger contexts. By applying this principle to nuclear deterrence, it is demonstrated that agents who undertake such a policy may be morally justified in doing so, provided certain conditions are met. The thesis closes with a refutation of the objection that an agent cannot rationally form an intention such as that required in deterrence which he has no reason to carry out. jhd

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Nuclear Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE