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Deterrence and the Crisis in Moral Theory

An Analysis of the Moral Literature on the Nuclear Arms Debate

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Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez

The primary aim of this study is to examine the dominant views on the subject of deterrence and the use of nuclear weapons, compare them with each other, and consider objections that have or might be made against them. A second, more substantive aim is to show that nuclear weapons and war-fighting plans engender some disturbing moral dilemmas that call into question fundamental ways of thinking about morality and some of our common intuitions on the relation of intentions and actions. Deterrence and the Crisis in Moral Theory points to a profound conflict in moral theory between the ideals of character and the moral claims of politics.