Morality Meets Mutually Assured Destruction

The Department of Political Science in the School of Social Sciences hosted a colloquium entitled “Moral Dilemmas in the Security Discourses for Nuclear Weaponization” presented by political science graduate student Thomas Doyle in Social Sciences Plaza A on Friday, Oct. 17.
The majority of Doyle’s presentation focused on five different types of moral dilemmas that leaders encounter when making decisions on nuclear “weaponization.” Specifically, Doyle lectured on four case studies: India, Iran, Japan and Turkey, identifying the unique moral dilemma each country embodies.
Doyle began his presentation by defining terms such as “nuclear weaponization.” He specifically chose to use “nuclear weaponization” over “nuclear proliferation” because the latter focuses on suppliers as well as the weapons.
“Morality involves systematicity, publicity and informality,” Doyle said.
Doyle demonstrated how morality can be seen as “horizontal” across countries and “vertical” via political analysis.
Doyle broke up international ethics into five levels of analysis so the audience could grasp how each level perceives ethics. The lowest level consists of individuals, or social atoms. Above this category is the sub-state groups (including family), the third level of states or countries, the fourth level of transnational groups and the last level of the global aspect of individuals as members of humanity.
Doyle elaborated on the broadest level, which “transcends the level of the state” in terms of utilitarianism, and connected it to the concept that “the greatest good is for the greatest number of persons.”
Doyle explained the concept of the conflict of non-overridden moral requirements.
“A doesn’t override B and B doesn’t override A,” Doyle said.
He gave a real-world example of how, at times, he and his wife have different opinions, but the concept applies and neither overrides the other.
After the requirements, Doyle jumped into the different types of moral dilemmas. Type One was labeled “Legal vs. Natural Law” and questioned whether a country abides by the conditions in the non-nuclear proliferation treaty or “weaponizes” to maximize national security. Doyle explained the rationle behind Type One by saying, “Sometimes, we ought to break the law.”
Type Two was summarized as “Decision Makers are Indifferent.” Type Three was defined as whether a country acts in its own self-interest or in the interests of the international community. Type Four was based on a single moral rule and was called “Act in This Way vs. Don’t Act This Way.” Type Five applies to any country in general.
Doyle’s last section, titled “Implications,” listed bad moral luck, circumspect and empathetic assessments, and “jus post bellum, “Latin for “justice after war.” This consisted of a review session where faculty and students provided criticism and comments on Doyle’s presentation.
Political Science Department Chair and Associate Professor Mark P. Petracca kept a critical eye on the presentation and said, “I don’t have the ‘hook’ at the beginning and I don’t have the ‘hook’ at the end.”
Tom Le, a first-year political science graduate student with a specialization in Japanese security, found Doyle’s analysis of Japan’s moral dilemma with nuclear weaponization interesting and celebrated his usage of Japanese officials via personal interviews.
“He does a great job fusing political theory with international relations,” Le said.
Mark Gjokaj, a first-year political science graduate student, said he enjoyed the PowerPoint presentation as well as Doyle’s conversational speaking tone. However, Gjokaj was not entirely pleased with the presentation.
“I thought he could have answered questions a little bit more clearly,” Gjokaj said.
After the lecture, Doyle commented on his dissertation, which fuses political theory with international relations, specifically moral dilemma in nuclear weaponization.
He defined the first age in terms of the superpower battle during the Cold War when countries armed themselves, and the second as the post-Cold War era when countries rushed to acquire nuclear weapons for security, identity and retribution. Giving an example for identity, Doyle pointed out Iran wanting “to regain the glory of Persia,” While providing an example for retribution being that terrorist groups use nuclear weapons against Western imperialism and cultural dominance.
The next colloquium offered by the School of Social Sciences through the Department of Sociology will be Oct. 21 on “Patterns, Not Gaps: Gender Differences in Political Participation” in Social Sciences Plaza B Room 4206 from 12 to 1:30 p.m.