Nukes, Elizabeth Anscombe and Mr. Truman’s Degree

Pope Francis recently condemned the use, and even the possession, of nuclear weapons, calling such ‘immoral’. Of course, no technology, by itself, is intrinsically evil. One could, in theory, ponder a moral use of nuclear weapons, such as blowing up an asteroid hurtling towards the Earth, as in those substandard films. (Or was there only one?) They’ve also thought of trying them out to stop hurricanes. The laws of physics and Newtonian mechanics state that fragmenting such massive objects with a nuke would be impossible, if not immoral.

But, in general, their use in war is a rather large-scale evil, as weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction, as we have pointed out before. (here and here).

A reader just mentioned that in that last article, the link to Dr. Elizabeth Anscombe’s own essay, on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was not working (it has now been fixed).

Dr. Anscombe was prompted in 1956 to respond to her own college of Oxford’s decision to hand President Truman, who had ordered the attacks, an honorary doctorate, which she saw as unfitting to one who had condoned what amounted to mass murder.

Since nukes are now back in the news (but hopefully never again in the air), here is the link to her essay, which is well worth a read: