Abolition of Nuclear Weapons as a Moral Imperative
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Abolition of Nuclear Weapons as a Moral Imperative

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Abolition of Nuclear Weapons as a Moral Imperative argues that the use of nuclear weapons as a threat in policies of nuclear deterrence violate basic principles of morality and consequently the abolition of nuclear weapons from the world is a moral imperative nations that have them. The focus is on the United States since it will have to take the lead in any program of abolition. The argument is formulated in terms accessible to theorists in different disciplines and activists in a large range of causes. It appeals to principles that are widely shared but whose application to national policies, especially to deterrence by threats of mass destruction, has been debated ever since nuclear weapons were developed. The book explains what is meant by the "immorality" of a national policy, the stake which citizens have in their agents acting morally and the role of their opinions in seeing that they do. The argument of the book is couched in terms of consequences. The effects of the U.S.'s nuclear deterrent on the probability of nuclear war are difficult to calculate; but the harms for the country and others across the globe caused by the immense apparatus necessary to make U.S. threats credible are sufficient to condemn the policy. The last part of the book is devoted to way the U.S. can take the lead in safe and effective steps necessary to abolish the weapons and prevent their reintroduction into the world.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 214 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 476.27g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739188194
  • 9780739188194

About John Kultgen

John Kultgen is professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Missouri, Columbia.show more

Review quote

In this thoughtful treatise, John Kultgen argues that the U.S. must abandon cold war ways of thinking that have corrupted American politics and take the lead in a worldwide effort to abolish nuclear weapons. This first step, in conjunction with the establishment of new methods of resolving conflicts, would put the country and the world on a path toward more genuine security. Kultgen seeks to convince his fellow citizens that taking action to demand the abolition of nuclear weapons is more than ever both a moral imperative and a patriotic duty. I hope he succeeds. -- Robbie Lieberman, Kennesaw State University Kultgen reminds us of the reasons for abolishing nuclear weapons, especially because of the consequences of their use and even if they are maintained solely for defense. His chapter on the immorality of nuclear deterrence, the heart of this book, articulates the continued relevance of the long tradition of philosophical opposition to nuclear weapons. Kultgen also addresses paths toward abolition and resources for readers wanting to pursue these issues in further depth. -- William C. Gay, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh is noted for his "engaged Buddhism," an approach that brings activism to Buddhism's meditative and contemplative practices. John Kultgen, in his book Abolition of Nuclear Weapons as a Moral Imperative, exemplifies a similar spirit that one might call "engaged philosophy." He brings his philosophical prowess and his lifetime of study to bear on the most important problem of the last seventy years, the existence of nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to life on earth. The book is broad in scope: historical, ethical, philosophical, political, and perhaps most importantly, pragmatic. His analysis of the problem is not merely a pronouncement on the evils of weapons of mass destruction: it is, as its title states, an imperative, a heartfelt but meticulous cost-benefit analysis of the ultimate dis-value of nuclear weapons. Moreover, it offers a plan for their abolition. Every person on Earth should come to understand the imperative and the plan that Kultgen admirably puts forward in this work. -- Barry L. Gan, Professor of Philosophy, St. Bonaventure Universityshow more

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. Patriotic Abolitionism Chapter 3. The Moral Dimension of Leadership Chapter 4. The Immorality of Nuclear Deterrence Chapter 5. Global Strike Capability and the American Empire Chapter 6. Deterrence and the Probability of Nuclear War Chapter 7. The Cost of Implementation Chapter 8. Abolition and Its Alternatives Chapter 9. The Challenge Chapter 10. Plans of Action Chapter 11. Final Thoughtsshow more