Is it immoral to use nuclear weapons in war?

Hi everyone. I believe that it is immoral to use nuclear weapons in war and it can never be justified. I would like to know y’all’s opinion on the matter. If I had the choice, snuffing out hundreds of thousands of lives in a matter seconds at the touch of a button is something I would rather not want to answer to God for.


Generally agree, although I suppose the calculus changes if you were using it against a specifically military target instead of a city full of civilians.

In general the use is immoral. But there are situations in which they are justified. And may be used. It is unfortunate they exist. But they do and it is a viable weapon worldwide. Because of that, they should be used only in the rarest and narrowest of circumstances.

Even then I would be hesitant. If we ever go to war with say, China or Russia, most of their armies would be made up of conscripts. People who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Would you really want to kill thousands of Chinese or Russian farmers and factory workers you never had a problem with in the first place? Most of these young men never would have had a chance at a normal life and so they can be used and abused by their governments. This is why I believe a war with either China or Russia would be extremely immoral. That is just my opinion on the matter.


So if we are threatened or launched upon what would you do?

Nuclear weapon use is extremely rare. In fact in war it has been used 2 times by 1 country in approximately 80 years. And there have been many wars since involving nuclear states and not once have they been deployed. Afghanistan with Russia Afghanistan with USA Iraq Iran Vietnam Korea etc. believe me, there are just as powerful and horrible weapons that have been used that are not nuclear. Chemical, biological, or sheer explosive power.

Well, first you have to understand ‘nuclear weapons’. The current weaponry is far stronger than the bombs dropped on Japan in '45. Plus, a ‘dirty bomb’ is an explosive which just spreads radiation but does not have a nuclear explosion. Spreading radiation poisons locations for centuries.

There is also the realpolitik about nuclear weaponry as to ‘mutually assured destruction’. The reality of world-wide conflagration which would occur is not to be ignored. In part, I think that reality was part of what finally deflated the Cuban missile crisis back in the early sixties.

If you take all of that in mind, is the use of nuclear weapons immoral? I think so.


I can understand the justification given for the use in World War II–that is, the degree to which it was likely that the war would have been dragged onto the Japanese mainland and that non-combatants such as prisoners of war were to have been sacrificed by their captors. I don’t know that the ramifications of the totality of damage from a nuclear weapon were fully appreciated, though. I am not going to say the moral reasoning at the time, knowing what the situation was at the time, was defective. I suppose that says that I can imagine a possibly-not automatically-immoral use situation?

No, taking into account what modern nuclear weapons have become and what we appreciate now about the extent and duration of the damage they inflict, I don’t see a moral use for them going forward. The question now, though, is what to do with the ones we have? Some of the total extent of the damage of a nuclear bomb is in the construction of it, and that is done. It can be cheaper to enrich new material than it is to downgrade and re-purpose weapons-grade materials. Of course, if they aren’t de-activated, then there is a chance someone will choose to use them. It is a crazy world, these days.

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Depends. If it is used against innocent civilians or in an indiscriminate manner it is absolutely immoral and violates the principle of reasonable and proportionate force according to the Just War Theory. Nuclear Warfare is very difficult to justify in theory and almost impossible to do in practice.

No no no no.

Conscript or volunteer, once they swear the oath and put on a uniform, they are deemed lawful combatants. It does not matter if they were farmers or factory workers in a previous life.

If there is a war with Russia or China, as insane as that would be, it would be legitimate to kill their combatants, even if they were conscripts.

As some general once said, “It’s not your duty to die for your country. Your duty is to make sure the other fellow dies for his” or something along those lines.


What is the smallest yield nuclear weapon that might be considered moral?

Nuclear weapon yields are typically measured in kilotons or megatons, rating their power in comparison to amounts of TNT.

A one megaton weapon might be needed to destroy a hardened missile silo in a remote location. But a nuke with a 20 ton yield might be effective against a military base or aircraft carrier.

If you are targeting non combatants, that violates the just war doctrine. Not the just war theological opinion, the just war doctrine.


Would it be more moral to kill the same number slowly on a battlefield over many months?

Even though I consider most actual wars to be immoral, theoretically a war could be moral. If a theoretical war could be moral, theoretically an nuclear weapon could be used morally.

The people in charge of the nukes don’t really care if it is moral or not to use one. They hope they never have to use it, but will if they have to.

Even if civilians in the enemy country would not be killed, isn’t it likely that civilians in your country would be killed when they (or perhaps their ally) counterattack with nuclear weapons? Could we realistically claim no culpability for deaths of our civilians if that counterattack is indeed predictable, and came to pass?

I can’t understand the justification at all personally. It was a deliberate attack on a civilian target.

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That’s a legitimate point of view. I’m trying to see the past decision in the most charitable possible light. There was a belief that Japan would not ever lay down arms without significant civilian casualties. The concerns may have been misguided, but the question is whether or not they were honestly held.

I think the case for strict moral criticism of dropping the second bomb so soon after the first and before the Soviet invasion had its effect on the Japanese leadership is far easier case to make.

Having said all of that, though, we know things now about atomic bombs that we did not know then. The atomic bombs of today are not the atomic bombs of yesterday. The case against using today’s bombs in any conflict at all for any reason at all is far easier to make. Does that mean risking conquest by a foreign power that would not happen if we elected to use our nuclear bombs against them? Yes. We don’t have a moral right to preserve our sovereignty at any cost to the rest of humanity regardless of how unjust the aggression against us. That’s a hard pill to swallow, I suppose, but losing your soul is not justified by a desire to keep the world at bay. The thinking that there are some offenses against ourselves that we are justified in preventing no matter what the cost to any other bystanders is a violation against hope.

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None of us will ever have to have our “finger on the button”. So it’s use and the morality of it is kinda moot.

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Much different today Russian warhead holds up to 10 hydrogen bombs and apparently it can take out a country the size of France with one war head if not intercepted - Americans have a similar set-up and who knows what other countries have. If these fly its all over.

Given the performance of Japanese troops on locations like Iwo Jima and Okinawa, I don’t think those concerns were misguided at all.

Back on topic, a nuclear weapon is different from a crossbow or a rifle only in terms of the scope of its destructive power. The use of a crossbow or a rifle is neither moral nor immoral in and of itself. The [im]morality of their use is contingent on the [im]morality of the conflict in which they are used. By extension, there are military applications in which, I believe, the use of nuclear weapons would be justified.

That said, if I were President, I think I would have a very hard time giving the order, and I’m glad that “giving the order” is a procedure that is a lot more involved that simply pushing a button.


It’s immoral to kill civilians and non-combatants.

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