Morality, prudence, and nuclear weapons


Morality, prudence, and nuclear weapons

Steven P. Lee

(Cambridge studies in philosophy and public policy)

Cambridge University Press, 1996

  • : hbk
  • : pbk

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Bibliography: p. 335-408

Includes index



With the passing of the Cold War, a chapter in the history of nuclear deterrence has come to an end. Nuclear weapons remain, however, and nuclear deterrence will again be practiced. Rather than simply assume that the policy of deterrence has worked we need to learn the proper lessons from history in order to ensure that its mistakes are not repeated. Professor Lee furnishes us with the kind of analysis that will enable us to learn those lessons. This 1993 book is the first post-Cold War assessment of nuclear deterrence. It provides a comprehensive normative understanding of nuclear deterrence policy, examining both its ethical and strategic dimensions. The book poses the question: What kind of nuclear policy, if any, deserves both moral and prudential endorsement?


  • Preface and acknowledgements
  • 1. The difference nuclear weapons make
  • 2. The moral problem
  • 3. The logic of deterrence
  • 4. The prudential problem
  • 5. Moral counterforce
  • 6. Prudential counterforce
  • 7. Madvocacy
  • 8. Conflict resolution
  • Notes
  • Index.

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