Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Great Minds Think Alike Dept., Take 2

Greg beat me to the punch by posting in my comment field links to essays written last year by

himself

and

Shawn McElhinney

... that take apart the moral(-istic) case that Catholic apologists and writers have been making every year against the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The most important points I'd like to highlight is this:

(a) If an action (like, say, any and every use of a nuclear weapon) is intrinsically evil, then a threat to commit said intrinsic evil in the name of same other good is morally equivalent.

(b) The Church has not forbidden the possession of nuclear weapons, and in some circumstances even tacitly approved of their possession.¹

(c) Therefore, nuclear weapons must have a licit use.

(d) Deterrence alone doesn't cut it as a legitimate use. Partly because of point (a), and partly because of the manifest fact that a threat is only effective if people believe you will act on it.

(e) Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in fact small, by the standards of the nuclear weapons that have followed them. But happened there is what happens when nuclear weapons are used.

So Hiroshima and Nagasaki can only be intrinsically immoral from the premise that, at a minimum, total nuclear disarmament (I'd argue absolute absolute pacifism too, but that's a point for another day) is morally obligatory. And that is a premise that is obviously off the table.

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¹As the French bishops put it in 1984: "in the present geo-political context, can a country, which is being threatened in its life, in its liberty, or identify, morally have the right to fend off this radical threat [referring to the tyrannical false religion of Marxism-Leninism, VJM] by effective counter-threat, one which is even nuclear? Up until now, while stressing the limited character of such a parry, and the enormous risk which it entails, the Catholic Church has not believed it necessary to condemn it."

1 comment:

Greg said...

(d) Deterrence alone doesn't cut it as a legitimate use. Partly because of point (a), and partly because of the manifest fact that a threat is only effective if people believe you will act on it.

Of course, this would stand to reason. What kind of deterrent effect would a weapon have if not for the possibility of its use?