“A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.” Critically examine the ethical dimensions of the given statement from the perspective of international relations. (150 words)

Mentors Comments:
First part of the answer should bring out how the issue of nuclear weapons has its own moral dimensions.
Then one should examine the different ethical dimensions of the statement. They may be:
– Stability in world affairs v/s always living under fear.
– If Nuclear weapons in themselves are moral or immoral
– From the point of view of Utilitarianism and deontology.
– Money for weapons v/s money for poor and other developmental objectives

Suitable examples should be provided to support the arguments. Preferably the conclusion should favor the disarmament.

Answer:

Nuclear weapons have the potential to destroy the entire ecosystem of the planet. However, a handful of states insist that these weapons provide unique security benefits, but reserve the sole right to possess them. Hence, the possession of nuclear weapons leads to numerous moral/ethical dilemmas.

The first question is whether the nuclear weapons are moral or immoral in themselves. According to ethical theories, since morality cannot be attributed to non­human things, hence nuclear weapons in themselves are neither evil nor good.

According to proponents of nuclear weapons, these weapons create deterrence and stabilize the world order. Proponents of deterrence claim that nuclear weapons are not so much an instrument for the waging of war but political instruments “intended to prevent war by depriving it of any possible rationale.” They argue that nuclear weapons deterred the full­scale war between USSR and US during the period of cold war.

But it can also be argued that nuclear weapons create an environment of constant fear and jeopardise the life of millions of innocent people. Living constantly under fear subdues the free will; it is no way to maintain a world order. It erodes the dignity of human life.

From the utilitarian perspective, while nuclear weapons give a sense of security to the nations, which possess them, but it instills fear of complete destruction in the mind of billions. Even the citizens of nuclear ­armed states cannot be sure of their safety. Hence, on the touchstone of ‘maximum good to maximum people’ nuclear weapons falter.

Similarly from deontological perspective, it is the duty of the governments to make their citizens empowered and free from fear. But nuclear weapons do exactly the opposite. Although they lead to some stability in world relations but leave the people incapable of defending themselves in the case of nuclear war. Nuclear weapons also use human life and emotions as means; hence they also fail the deontological test.

Another dimension could be whether the money used for production of nuclear weapons can be put to better use. If money is saved from refraining from arms race, it can be used to strengthen the social welfare mechanism of governments. Definitely spending on social upliftment is more moral than spending on weapons, which are never supposed to be used.

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