Scientific research leading to the production of chemical agents and technologies enables malevolent agents to engage in harmful behaviour by way of a number of different pathways. For example, scientific research led to knowledge-how to aerolize chemicals for crop dusting (benefit); yet this discovery also made possible the aerolizing of chemicals for use in weaponry (harm). For nation-states (especially) can and do directly establish chemical weapons research programs. However, according to the definition in this book weapons research programs, including chemical weapons research programs, are not dual use because weapons are designed in the first instance to cause harm, and this is the case even if the weapons in question are developed for defensive rather than offensive use. Naturally, at least in principle, chemical weapons research might be conducted not with the intention of making and potentially using chemical weapons, but rather with the intention merely of understanding the functioning of such weapons so as to enable (say) the design and production of protective clothing in case of a chemical weapons attack by one’s enemies. Such weapons research might be dual use in our favoured sense. It is also argued in this chapter that the management of dual use risks in chemical research should be seen as a collective moral and institutional responsibility of multiple actors that can only be fulfilled with a web of prevention (an integrated suite of regulatory measures).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDual use science and technology, ethics and weapons of mass destruction
EditorsSeumas Miller
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319926063
ISBN (Print)9783319926056
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameSpringerBriefs in Ethics
ISSN (Print)2211-8101
ISSN (Electronic)2211-811X


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