Past event

Invitation Only

The New Non-Moral Nuclear Disarmament Debate

Chatham House, London

International Security Department, Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons


Ethical thought about nuclear weaponry helped to motivate and broaden the anti-nuclear movement through much of the Cold War and had direct effects on American nuclear policy. But since the end of the Cold War, ethical arguments have drained from American discussion of nuclear issues. Even as nuclear disarmament commands more attention than it has in decades, the contemporary discussion has lost track of what were historically the most compelling arguments both for and against the policy.

This event will summarize the history of nuclear ethics in disarmament advocacy (including a typology of ethical arguments) and discuss what happened to these complex and influential arguments. It will also explore implications of the transition for the current debate, including the loss of popular support and an outdated understanding of the strategic context.