Material in this section has appeared in
Robert L. Simon, "Troubled Waters: Global
Justice and Ocean Resources," in
Tom Regan, ed., Earthbound ( New York: Random House, 1984) pp. 179-213 and is reprinted with the kind permission of Random House.
Some might argue that there are possible (although perhaps not probable) circumstances in which nuclear war might be the lesser of two evils. Suppose, for example, on threat
of nuclear annihilation that a Nazi-like country demanded that the West surrender religious
and racial minorities to it so that they could be exterminated. We suspect that some readers
will think that no nation should give in to such a threat, even if refusing meant nuclear war. Of
course, even if nuclear war arguably might be the lesser of two evils in some possible circumstances, it does not follow it is the lesser of two evils in any circumstances that are likely to
This point is discussed by
Gregory Kavka in his article, "Some Paradoxes of Deterrence," The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. LXXV, No. 6 ( 1978): 285-302.
Douglas Lackey, "Ethics and Nuclear Deterrence," in Rachels, pp. 430-31.
Such a claim is put forward by Nozick, p. 28ff. and is criticized by
George Sher in his
article "Rights Violations and Injustices: Can We Always Avoid Tradeoffs?" Ethics, Vol. 94,
No. 2 ( 1984): 212-24.
Such a claim is defended by
William H. Shaw in "Nuclear Deterrence and Deontology," Ethics, Vol. 94, No. 2 ( 1984): 248-60.
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