Dual use problem exists in an acute form in the nuclear sciences and technology. For scientific research, technology and materials in the nuclear sciences have enabled, on the one hand, unbounded nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and yet on the other, massive arsenals of nuclear WMDs with the potential to destroy humankind. The nuclear industry has also facilitated the potential for malevolent actors to deploy ‘dirty bombs’ and created the conditions under which culpable negligence can result in nuclear disasters. Moreover, scientists and technologists have specific moral responsibilities, both individual and collective, given their central roles in nuclear power plants and government sponsored weapons programs, in particular. These include the collective responsibility to maintain collective public ignorance and not to enable collective expert knowledge in respect of certain expert groups. The generic solution to the kind of collective action problem to be found in the nuclear sciences, notably the nuclear weapons arms race, is at least in part an enforced cooperative scheme: enforced cooperative schemes are one important way to embed collective moral responsibility in institutional settings suffering from harm inducing collective action problems. This requires widening and strengthening existing institutional arrangements such as the NPT, but also creating additional ones, especially in the area of enforcement.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDual use science and technology, ethics and weapons of mass destruction
EditorsSeumas Miller
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319926063
ISBN (Print)9783319926056
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Nuclear industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this