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Reviving Nuclear Ethics: A Renewed Research Agenda for the Twenty-First Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2011


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1 Gessert, Robert and Hehir, J. Bryan, The New Nuclear Debate (New York: Council on Religion and International Affairs, 1976), p. 71.Google Scholar

2 See, e.g., Donaldson, Thomas, “Nuclear Deterrence and Self-Defense,” Ethics 95, no. 3 (April 1985), pp. 537–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gerald Dworkin, “Nuclear Intentions,” Ethics 95, no. 3 (April 1985), pp. 445–60; Steven Lee, “The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence: Hostage Holding and Consequences,” Ethics 95, no. 3 (April 1985), pp. 549–66; and Jeff McMahan, “Deterrence and Deontology,” Ethics 95, no. 3 (April 1985), pp. 525, 534–36.

3 See, e.g., Solingen, Etel, Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007).Google Scholar See also Robert J. Einhorn, “Identifying Nuclear Aspirants and Their Pathways to the Bomb,” Nonproliferation Review 13, no. 3 (November 2006), pp. 491–99.

4 See, e.g., Etzioni, Amitai, “Tomorrow's Institution Today,” Foreign Affairs 88, no. 3 (May/June 2009), pp. 711.Google Scholar

5 On the social science continuum, see, e.g., Chernoff, Fred, Theory and Metatheory in International Relations: Concepts and Contending Accounts (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Audie Klotz and Cecelia Lynch, Strategies for Research in Constructivist International Relations (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 2007), esp. chap. 1. On the consequentialist-deontology continuum, see Joseph S. Nye, Nuclear Ethics (New York: The Free Press, 1986). See also Terry Nardin, “Ethical Traditions in International Affairs,” in Terry Nardin and David Mapel, eds., Traditions of International Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 1–22.

6 Korsgaard, Christine et al. , The Sources of Normativity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

7 Nye, Nuclear Ethics; Lee, “The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence”; Donaldson, “Nuclear Deterrence and Self-Defense”; and McMahan, “Deterrence and Deontology.”

8 See, e.g., Coicaud, Jean-Marc and Warner, Daniel, “Introduction: Reflections on the Extent and Limits of Contemporary International Ethics,” in Coicaud, Jean-Marc and Warner, Daniel, eds., Ethics and International Affairs: Extent and Limits (New York: United Nations University Press, 2001), pp. 113Google Scholar; and Friedrich Kratochwil, “International Law as an Approach to International Ethics: A Plea for a Jurisprudential Diagnostics,” in Coicaud and Warner, eds., Ethics and International Affairs, pp. 14–41.

9 Tannenwald, Nina, The Nuclear Taboo: The United States and the Non Use of Nuclear Weapons Since 1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), chaps. 5, 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

10 Ramsey, Paul, “The Case for Making ‘Just War’ Possible,” in Bennett, John C., ed., Nuclear Weapons and the Conflict of Conscience (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962), pp. 143–72.Google Scholar

11 Gauthier, David, “Deterrence, Maximization, and Rationality,” Ethics 94, no. 3 (April 1984), pp. 474–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

12 Tannenwald, The Nuclear Taboo, p. 62.

13 Paul, T. V., “Nuclear Taboo and War Initiation in Regional Conflicts,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 39, no. 4 (December 1995), pp. 696–717CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Tannenwald, The Nuclear Taboo.

14 See, e.g., Bahgat, Gawdat, “Nuclear Proliferation: The Islamic Republic of Iran,” International Studies Perspectives 7 (2006), pp. 124–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Wyn Bowen and Joanna Kidd, “The Iranian Nuclear Challenge,” International Affairs 80, no. 2 (2004), pp. 257–76.

15 “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002” (Washington, D.C.: The White House); and Paul Ramsey, The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility, with a new foreword by Stanley Hauerwas (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, [1968] 2002), esp. the foreword and chap. 11.

16 Luban, David, “Preventive War,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 32, no. 3 (2004), pp. 207–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 See, e.g., Gauthier, , “Deterrence, Maximization, and Rationality”; Gessert and Hehir, The New Nuclear Debate; and Gregory Kavka, “Some Paradoxes of Deterrence,” Journal of Philosophy 75, no. 6 (June 1978), pp. 285302.Google Scholar

18 Ramsey, “The Case for Making ‘Just War’ Possible.”

19 Lee, “The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence”; and McMahan, “Deterrence and Deontology.”

20 Nye, Nuclear Ethics.

21 U.S. Department of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” 2010; available at For other public statements, see

22 Hashmi, Sohail and Lee, Steven P., eds., Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

23 See, e.g., Campbell, Kurt, Einhorn, Richard, and Reiss, Mitchell B., eds., The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004)Google Scholar; Christopher F. Chyba and Karthika Sasikumar, “A World at Risk: The Current Environment for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy,” in George Bunn and Christopher F. Chyba, eds., U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today's Threats (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), pp. 1–33; Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, “Nuclear Insecurity,” Foreign Affairs 86, no. 5 (September/October 2007), pp. 109–18; and George Perkovich, “Bush's Nuclear Revolution: A Regime Change in Nonproliferation,” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 2 (March/April 2003), pp. 2–8.

24 Allison, Graham, “Nuclear Disorder: Surveying Atomic Threats,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 1 (January/February 2010), p. 85.Google Scholar

25 See, e.g., Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” International Organization 52, no. 4 (Autumn 1998), pp. 887–917; Richard M. Price, The Chemical Weapons Taboo (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997); and Wayne Sandholtz, Prohibiting Plunder: How Norms Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

26 See, e.g., Lantis, Jeffrey S., The Life and Death of International Treaties: Double Edged Diplomacy and the Politics of Ratification in Comparative Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).Google Scholar

27 Mitsuru Kurusawa, “East Asian Regional Security and Arguments for a Nuclear Japan” (paper prepared for the workshop “Prospects for East Asian Disarmament,” Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima, Japan, March 11–12, 2004), pp. 2–3; available at

28 Rublee, Maria R., Nonproliferation Norms: Why States Choose Nuclear Restraint (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2009), chap. 3.Google Scholar

29 Reus-Smit, Christian, “International Crises of Legitimacy,” International Politics 44 (2007), p. 161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

30 See, e.g., Ahmed Fathalla, “Statement Before the General Debate of the 2005 Review Conference of the NPT”; available at

31 Rublee, Nonproliferation Norms.

32 See, e.g., Shultz, George P. et al. , “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007, p. A15Google Scholar; and Wade L. Huntley, “The Abolition Aspiration,” Nonproliferation Review 17, no. 1 (March 2010), pp. 139–59.

33 Reus-Smit, “International Crises of Legitimacy.”

34 Peter Baker and Ellen Barry, “U.S. and Russia Agree to Slash Nuclear Arms,” New York Times, March 25, 2010, p. A1.

35 Thomas D'Agostino, “The United States and Article VI: A Record of Accomplishment” (paper presented at “The Conference on Disarmament,” February 7, 2008); available at These numbers are approximations.

36 Shultz et. al. “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons.”

37 Joseph S. Nye, “NPT: The Logic of Inequality,” Foreign Policy 59 (Summer 1985), pp. 123–31.

38 Booth, Ken and Wheeler, Nicolas J., The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation, and Trust in World Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).Google Scholar Booth and Wheeler define the security dilemma as a two-level strategic predicament in which state actors are pulled, first, between conflicting interpretations of the motives, intentions, and capabilities of rival states, and second, between conflicting options of policy response. In these dilemmatic contexts, they argue, the outcomes of these policy decisions constitute security paradoxes.

39 Doyle, Thomas E., “The Moral Implications of the Subversion of the Nonproliferation Treaty Regime,” Ethics and Global Politics 2, no. 2 (2009), pp. 131–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

40 Ferguson, Charles D., “The Long Road to Zero: Overcoming the Obstacles to a Nuclear-Free World,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 1 (January/February 2010), pp. 8694.Google Scholar

41 Reus-Smit, “International Crises of Legitimacy.”

42 Rawls, John, The Law of Peoples: with “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999)Google Scholar; and Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 3rd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2000).

43 Rawls, The Law of Peoples, pp. 44–54.

44 Deudney, Daniel H., Bounding Power: Republican Security Theory from the Polis to the Global Village (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 255.Google Scholar

45, “Nuclear as Well as Non-Nuclear Countries Support Plan for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons” (December 9, 2008); available at

46 Ibid.

47 For public opinion data on the Indian case just before the Pokhran tests, see Cortright, David and Mattoo, Amitabh, “Elite Public Opinion and Nuclear Weapons Policy in India,” Asian Survey 36, no. 6 (June 1996), pp. 545–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Public opinion analysis for India after the Pokhran tests is available at For current public opinion data for Israel, see Simons Foundation, “Global Public Opinion on Nuclear Weapons,” Vancouver, Canada, 2007; accessed on February 26, 2010 at The URL is no longer active, but the author will provide electronic copies of the poll to interested parties by request.

48 “Obama Prague Speech on Nuclear Weapons”; available at

49 Posner, Richard A., Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in Time of National Emergency (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).Google Scholar

50 See, e.g., Mearsheimer, John, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001).Google Scholar For a contrasting view, see John Mueller, Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War (New York: Basic Books, 1989). See also Patrick Morgan, Deterrence Now (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

51 Jeremy Bernstein, “Is Nuclear Deterrence Obsolete?” New York Review of Books online, April 29, 2010; available at

52 Mueller, John E., Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them (New York: The Free Press, 2006).Google Scholar

53 I borrow this term from Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, chapter 16. See also Thomas E. Doyle, II, “Kantian Nonideal Theory and Nuclear Proliferation,” International Theory 2, no. 1 (March 2010), pp. 87–112.

54 Lee, “The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence”; and McMahan, “Deterrence and Deontology,” p. 525.

55 Bajpai, Kanti, “Hinduism and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Pacifist, Prudential, and Political,” in Hashmi and Lee, eds., Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction, pp. 311–12.Google Scholar

56 See, e.g., Martin, Susan B., “Realism and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Consequentialist Analysis,” in Hashmi and Lee, eds., Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction, pp. 96110.Google Scholar

57 Solingen, Nuclear Logics.

58 Perkovich, George, India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).Google Scholar

59 Hymans, Jacques E. C., The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions, and Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

60 Ibid.; and Perkovich, India's Nuclear Bomb.

61 See, e.g., Constantinou, Costas M., States of Political Discourse: Words, Regimes, Seditions (London: Routledge, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jack Donnelly, “Ethics and International Human Rights,” in Hashmi and Lee, eds., Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction, pp. 128–60; and Jack Donnelly, Human Rights in Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. (Ithaca N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2003).

62 Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, Moral Dilemmas (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988).Google Scholar

63 Solingen, Nuclear Logics.

64 Quoted in Bowen and Kidd, “The Iranian Nuclear Challenge,” pp. 269–70.

65 Quoted in Solingen, Nuclear Logics, p. 181.

66 Solingen, Nuclear Logics, pp. 181–82.

67 Marc Lynch, “Lie to Me: Sanctions on Iraq, Moral Argument, and the International Politics of Hypocrisy,” in Richard M. Price, ed., Moral Limit and Possibility in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 165–98.

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