NPT paper 2: On the ethics of nuclear weapons


Framing a political consensus on the unacceptability of nuclear weapons

By Nobuo Hayashi
  • The absence of a specific ban on nuclear weapons under today’s international law mirrors our moral ambivalence about them.
  • Consequentialist arguments for or against nuclear weapons cannot refute each other, since they both rely on alternative histories and rival futures that are ultimately unverifiable.
  • As is the case with torture, certain acts can be considered intrinsically wrongful, no matter how likely they may be to achieve their goals or however worthy such goals may be.
  • The challenge now is to cultivate a political consensus that, nuclear weapons are so singularly inhumane we ought categorically to reject their use, whatever purposes they may be said to serve.

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