The Ethics of Teaching and Scientific Research

By Sidney Hook; Paul Kurtz et al. | Go to book overview

Ethical Principles and
National Security Research

Donald G. Brennan
Hudson Institute

The hardware that we have to deal with in the National Security business is certainly hard enough, but the issues are sometimes a good deal softer, and I am really going to talk about the issues related to the hardware.

Some people in the past have questioned, on ostensibly ethical grounds, the conduct by the American National Security establishment of research and development directed toward improving various kinds of weapon capabilities. I should like to claim that the research and development of weapons and weapon systems is on the whole entirely compatible with recognized ethical principles. I won't spend very much time on this because, I think, in some sense the National Security establishment, and in particular the military research and development community, is in fact not currently substantially threatened by the kind of fashion that is coming up in the biomedical sciences, for example. We have had a few tentative forays against the National Security establishment on allegedly ethical grounds but nothing like the kind of sustained attack that Dr. Davis was speaking of.

As to the ethical principles involved that would justify the usual kinds of weapon research and development, I should say first of all that it's not even questioned, even by the critics of some of this research, that sovereign states will defend themselves, can defend themselves, and should and ought to defend themselves against encroachments from the outside world. For example, it is stated very clearly in the

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