New Report Assesses the Moral Foundations of Nuclear Deterrence


28 October 2015

New Report Assesses the Moral Foundations of Nuclear Deterrence

​PRIO researcher Gregory M. Reichberg has contributed to a new report which deals with the morality of nuclear deterrence.

The report, "Nuclear Deterrence: A Reassessment", is part of a working paper issued by the Caritas in Veritate Foundation, which works in close association with the Holy See's diplomatic representation in Geneva.

In addition to Reichberg's report, the paper reproduces the most important Catholic church texts on the morality of nuclear deterrence.

Follow this link for the full working paper.

​You can read an abstract of Reichberg's text below.

"Over the last two years there has been an increased focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. This, in turn, has led to renewed calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.  Throughout such discussions, the question of deterrence, the main stated reason why states possess nuclear weapons, has remained largely in the background. By way of contrast, and to fill a notable lacuna in the contemporary literature, this paper seeks to reassess the question of nuclear deterrence in light of the recent humanitarian discourse on nuclear weapons use. Seeking to undercut the assumption (prevalent in much of the ethical literature in this field) that nuclear deterrence can be judged independently of nuclear weapons use, this paper aims to show why this separation cannot be sustained. In line with recent Catholic Church teaching, the paper concludes that the system of nuclear deterrence lacks a proper moral foundation. Finding a way out of the grave risks associated with nuclear weapons, by redoubling our efforts toward the goal of general nuclear disarmament, consequently remains a top priority of our time."

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