Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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IPOL 8608


Few decisions are as important, even fateful, than those regarding nuclear weapons (e.g., research, development, production, deployment, doctrine and ultimately use). But these decisions, historically speaking, have tended to bypass the check-and-balance mechanisms of liberal democracy, thus creating a unique challenge to democratic governance. The political theorist Robert Dahl referred once to the incompatibility between the security and secrecy requirements of nuclear weapons and the spirit of liberal democracy as “tragic tension”, while other scholars claimed that nuclear weapons “corrupt” and poison the values of democracy. The purpose of this seminar is to study systematically the challenges that nuclear weapons create for democratic governance. The seminar will explore, philosophically and empirically, this “tragic tension.” We will examine the challenge both as a generic issue of the nuclear age, i.e., its bearing on both the substance and the procedure of democracy, as well as a comparative issue that manifests itself somewhat differently in different nuclear democracies (a case by case approach). The seminar will also elaborate on the philosophical linkage that exists between the democratic critique of nuclear weapons and the ideas of nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament.
The seminar will be consisted on one weekly lecture as well as on great deal of individual guidance between the instructor and the students.
International Policy
International Policy
Intl Policy & Management
Requirements Fulfilled: