Ethics & International Affairs Volume 5 (1991): Articles: Science Technology and Death in the Nuclear Age: Hans J. Morgenthau on Nuclear Ethics [Abstract]

Dec 2, 1991

Russell probes Morgenthau's realist ethics and the underpinnings of the nuclear threat in a technologically evolving modern world with increasingly obsolescent national boundaries. In the classic political question of a 'just war,' Russell argues that Morgenthau was concerned with dilemmas created by the very successes of science and the resulting decay of traditional Western thinking, where scientific reason was prevailing over social reason. Morgenthau's gloomy emphasis on "man's uncertain moral destiny in the nuclear era"-and, particularly, on the uniquely individualistic perceptions of scientific advancements at a time when nations seek collective security against the nuclear threat-highlights his confidence in the strong intellectual, moral and spiritual power of man. He is skeptical in the endurance of the morally disintegrating "scientific man." Morgenthau analyzes man's new understanding of "life" and "death" and examines the new scientist, who creates "a new nature out of his knowledge of the forces of nature," and the new statesman, who creates "a new society out of his knowledge of the nature of man." Morgenthau sees politics as an art, not a science, and "what is required for its mastery is not the rationality of the engineer but the wisdom and moral strength of the statesman."

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