Ethical Implications of Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare

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Ethical Implications of Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare


As current problems of terrorism and the war on Iraq, chemical, biological and nuclear warfare (CBW) issues are important and relevant. CBW agents are dangerous, uncontrollable and undifferentiating weapons of mass destructions. Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are capable of mass destruction aimed at killing masses of people. Using CBW agents comes with many ethical dilemmas and consequential side-effects. Chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons are designed to yield a great number of deaths. Regarding the ethical use of CBW, while looking at the larger context of war, one must determine the value of life. As backed by Virtues Ethics, this mass killing caused by CBW is unethical and unjustified.


News of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons seem to plague today's newspapers. Taking a glance at headlines, one would read about current issues regarding Iraqi disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, Russian government intentional use of a gas that killed rebels and hostages, and terrorist threats on the United States. Chemical and biological warfare (CBW) is not a new problem in the war against terror; it was a danger to communities centuries ago.

There are many accounts of deliberate use of biological or chemical agents during war. Some of these earliest accounts mentioned are found in the 6th century BCE when the Assyrians poisoned enemy wells with rye ergot, a fungus disease. Also at that time Solon of Athens used the purgative herb hellebore, during siege of Krissa. The Bible describes the ten plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the slaying of the f...

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