Nuclear Weapons and the American Churches: Ethical Positions on Modern Warfare, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nuclear Weapons and the American Churches

Ethical Positions on Modern Warfare, 1st Edition

By Donald L. Davidson


225 pages

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This book describes the positions advocated by ethicists and churches in the public debate on nuclear weapons. After tracing the development of just-war theory, the dominant moral position on war in Western thought, Dr. Davidson synthesizes the views of contemporary ethicists on the moral principles associated with the just-war tradition. He then documents the postures of Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Ramsey, Michael Walzer, and James Turner Johnson with regard to the first use and retaliatory use of nuclear weapons, deterrence policy, the nuclear freeze proposal, the arms race, and disarmament. The positions endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church and the major Protestant and Jewish denominations in the United States on the issues of nuclear warfare are described in detail, with extensive treatment given to the development of the Catholic Bishops' 1983 pastoral letter on war and peace and the statements of churches affiliated with the National Council of Churches. The views of over 30 denominations, representing more than 110 million members, are considered. The final chapter of the book contrasts the stance of the churches with that of the Reagan Administration. Proposing guidelines for a moral defense policy in the nuclear age, Dr. Davidson's thesis is that national security requires a recognition of the need to protect and preserve values worth defending while simultaneously taking steps to prevent nuclear war.

Table of Contents

Introduction -- The Development of the Just-War Tradition -- The Just-War Criteria: A Contemporary Description -- Nuclear Weapons: Prospectives from Just-War Ethicists -- The Roman Catholic Discussion: A Closer Look -- Protestant Peacemaking: The National Council of Churches -- Protestant Peacemaking: Lutherans, Southern Baptists, and Others -- The Nuclear Debate: Final Comments -- Letter to Churches -- Church Positions on Nuclear Weapons Issues

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