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From «Global Studies Encyclopedia»


·         GLOBAL STUDIES by Ph.D., Professor I.I. Masur, and Ph.D., Professor A.N. Chumakov

·         NUCLEAR WARFARE AND MORALITY by Ph.D., Professor William C. Gay (USA)

·         NATION by Ph.D., Professor T. Kamusella (Poland)


Ph.D., Professor I.I. Masur, Ph.D., Professor A.N. Chumakov


GLOBAL STUDIES are an interdisciplinary field of scientific investigations aimed at revealing the nature, tendencies and reasons for globalization processes, the global problems it generates, and the search for ways of furthering positive and overcoming negative consequences of these processes for human beings and the biosphere. In a wider sense the term is used to signify a body of scientific, philosophical, culturological, and applied investigations on various aspects of globalization and global problems, including the results of such investigations, as well as practical activities toward their implementation in economic, social, and political areas both at the level of individual states and internationally. Global studies are a result of integration processes characteristic of modern science. It is an area of investigation wherein various scientific disciplines and philosophy closely interact with each other (each from its own standpoint and method), analyze various aspects of globalization, offer solutions to global problems seen both separately and as an integral system.

Global studies have begun to form into an independent line of scientific inquiry and sphere of social practice since the end of the 1960s in the midst of the sharp deterioration of the ecological situation that first hit the industrially developed countries, and then spread to other countries. They address the complexity, diversity, and dynamics of the modern epoch, including its particularly technocratic and scientistic nature, the inhuman nature of the rampant growth of non-ecological industrial production, and unrestrained technological progress. Never before has our planet been so overburdened, and human beings have come into collision with the results of their labor that made them critically dependent on scientific and technological achievements and unprotected against the power human beings themselves have created. In the wake of the unprecedented pollution of the environment there appeared alarming tendencies of population growth, arms races, depletion of natural resources, etc., which pose serious threats to social progress and even life on Earth. An active development of global studies was notably affected by the imbalance between society and nature that by that time had reached the maximum permissible proportions; furthermore, fragmentation and disunity in the face of global problems had become so evident not only to specialists, but to public consciousness as well. Consequently, the concepts of “ecology,” “ecological crisis,” “global problems of modernity,” “globalization,” “anti-globalism,” etc. became widely used in scientific parlance and fairly quickly were added to the vocabulary of practically all languages in the world. They have become part of ordinary consciousness, political vocabulary, and attributes of the modern worldview. The number of publications, scientific conferences, and discussions on these topics has been growing annually all around the world and the results of such activities generate an ever-increasing scientific and public response.

The establishment since the 1960s of specialized institutions (international, governmental, nongovernmental, private), such as Institute of Problems of the Future (1965, Vienna) or the International Foundation “Humanity in 2000” (1965, Netherlands), contributed to a great extent to increased awareness of global problems along with the causes and processes that generated them. Society for the Study of the Future came into being in 1966 in Washington. The number of such institutions grew with time. However, genuine interest in topics of a global nature was created following the first reports of the Club of Rome set up in 1968. These studies quickly gained international publicity and provided a theoretical basis for modern global studies by performing not only the required heuristic and methodological function of forming a radically new sphere of interdisciplinary expertise, but also by playing an important educational role.

Thanks to global studies, in recent years ideas have expanded significantly, in scope and depth, on the tendencies in the development of the global economy as an integral system and on the ensuing global problems. The nature and genesis of global problems were revealed; the profound relationship was exposed not only between natural and social processes, but also between the contradictions thereof and their dependence on social, economic, political, ideological, and scientific-technological circumstances. The most important achievement of global studies was the creation of a language for interdisciplinary communication acceptable for different sciences, and the development and upgrading of fundamental key concepts and categories, such as “globalization,” “global problem,” “ecological crisis,” “ecologization of production,” “demographic explosion,” “global dependency,” “world community,” “new thinking,” and “new humanism.” Consequently, people’s world outlook underwent significant changes; they gained a much greater understanding than they previously possessed of the dependence of human beings on nature, the environment of the earth and space, and the resulting relations and balance of forces in the world. It becomes obvious that the interdependence of all aspects of social life is steadily growing, that different states increasingly interact with each other, and that while states were asserting their own national interests and sovereignty they were generating radically new contradictions in international relations.

            From the standpoint of modern global studies, current global problems are not the result of someone’s miscalculation, someone’s fatal flaw or deliberately chosen strategy of social and economic development. They are neither whims of history nor the result of natural anomaly. Global changes and the ensuing problems common to humankind have been the consequence of centuries-old quantitative and qualitative transformations in both social development and the “society-nature” system. The root causes go back to the history of the formation of modern civilization, giving rise to an all-embracing crisis of industrial society, of technocratically oriented culture in general. This crisis embraced the whole set of interpersonal relations and relations with society and nature and also infringed on vital interests of the entire world community. Such a development resulted first of all in a degradation of the human environment, and quite soon it revealed a tendency toward a degradation of human beings themselves, as their behavior, ideas, and thinking were found to be unable to adequately adapt to the changes that were occurring around them with an ever-increasing speed. The rapid development of social and economic processes were attributed to human beings themselves, and the purposeful transforming activities in which they engaged were enhanced many times by ever new achievements in science and technology.

In recent decades, due to the rapid progress of science and technology, there have been more changes in the productive forces of society than over many preceding centuries. At the same time the process of change developed at an ever-increasing speed and was invariably accompanied by deep and fundamental transformations in social and economic spheres. Thus, while the transition from verbal communication to written language took three million years, from written language to printing took around five thousand years, from printing to such audio-visual aids as telephone, radio, audio-recording, TV, etc., took around 500 years, the transition from traditional audio-visual aids to modern computers and space communication facilities has taken less than 50 years. The time necessary for inventions to be put in practice is seven times shorter now; it is already measured by months and even days, not by years. The unprecedented speed and scale of the spread of the Internet, electronic mail, and radiotelephones provide clear evidence. It should also be taken into account that advances in technology, economy, and land and sea transportation have tremendously increased the mobility and transforming capabilities of human beings. World trade and the interdependence of the world economy have increased accordingly, which is intimately related to the unprecedented population growth. Thus, while at the beginning of this era (A.D.) all of humankind totaled 250 million people and only reached one billion people by the year 1800, in 1930 there were already two billion, in 1975 there were four billion and in October 1999 the global population reached six billion. Consequently, no more unexplored territories and practically no clean territories, water, and air space remain on Earth that had not been directly or indirectly affected by human activities. All of these factors made it possible to now call our planet a “common home,” “island in the Universe,” “global village,” “space ship ‘Earth,’” etc., and to call problems common to all people global ones.

Scholars and philosophers had focused their attention on some tendencies of the development of the world as a whole and changes occurring therein, some time before these changes became so evident to everybody. One can refer to Malthusian ideas on the natural adjustment of population numbers, Kant’s speculations on the eternal world, Lamarck’s thoughts about the role of human beings, as well as K. Marx and F. Engels’s ideas set forth in the “Communist Manifesto” and some other works, as the first attempts to ponder over the newly emerging world tendencies and the radically new problems common to all humankind to which they gave rise. The “First International,” established on their initiative in 1864, became a forerunner of many international organizations that started to appear since the beginning of the 20th century and have now become an integral part of the present-day life of the world community. Theoretically, an important part in creating general awareness of these global tendencies when they were not so evident was played by the works of V. Solovyov, E. LeRoy, P. Teilhard de Chardin, V.I. Vernadsky, A.L. Chizhevsky, K.E. Tsiolkovsky, K. Jaspers, B. Russell, and others. In the first place, these thinkers were concerned with the radically new tendencies disturbing natural equilibrium of natural and social systems, and they tried to explain them based on the knowledge available then. Their works and speculations about the “number of the population on the Earth,” the “eternal world,” the “world-wide unification of the proletariat,” “one divine humankind,” the “noosphere,” “world government,” “cosmopolitism,” etc., paved the way for an understanding by philosophical, scientific, and popular consciousness that humankind as a whole is inseparably linked to the natural conditions of its existence (nature, space) and that they and these conditions shared a common destiny.

Thus, already back in the 1930s, V.I. Vernadsky, who developed the conception of noosphere, reached a radical conclusion about the changed face of the Earth in consequence of the current transformative activities of humankind and warned that, unless a society developed on a basis of reasonable principles, the destruction of all life on Earth was imminent. “Humans really understood for the first time,” he wrote in his work The Scientific Idea as a Planetary Phenomenon, “that they were inhabitants of the planet and could-should-think and act in a new identity, in their status not only as individuals or as members of a family or state, but also as planetary citizens” (Vernadsky, V.I. Filosofskie mysli naturalista. Moscow, 1988. P. 35). The English historian A.Toynbee, who regarded social development as a coexistence and interaction of various civilizations, asserted prior to the computer revolution that “in the twentieth century general world history has begun.” It was thereby stressed that cardinal changes affected not only the foundations of social order, but also the major tendencies of world social processes. A radically new theme that had never existed before-that of the common destiny of humankind and the preservation of life on Earth-was added by the modern epoch to perennial philosophical problems of being, consciousness, the meaning of life, and other matters.

In recent years a new tendency has taken shape in global studies, indicating a growing shift in the focus on the part of scholars, researchers, and even politicians from examining separate global problems toward examining processes of globalization and the greater interdependence of the modern world. The reason is that after almost thirty years, those working in this field had inadequate experience in becoming aware of and overcoming individual global problems and desired to uncover their fundamental causes and increasing urgency. This tendency is characteristic of both specific scientific disciplines and philosophy in general. For instance, although the topic of globalization as such did not figure directly in the three recent World Congresses of Philosophy held in Brighton (1988), Moscow (1993), and Boston (1998), sectional meetings and round tables on global problems invariably did take place. The term “globalization” has been in scientific usage since the mid-nineties and became wide-spread fairly quickly. Nevertheless, it has not been defined precisely, and the content is still a matter of active discussion. In the last 2–3 years these discussions have become especially pointed when the international movement of antiglobalists came into being and staged extravagant protests.

In modern global studies the term “globalization” is used, as a rule, to characterize integration and disintegration processes of planetary scope in the fields of economics, politics, and culture, as well as anthropogenic changes in the environment which are manifested in forms of a universal nature and affect in their content the interests of the entire world community. At the same time one notes two extreme attitudes in understanding the phenomenon of “globalization” itself and its genesis. On the one hand, the interpretation of the planetary nature of social links and relations is unduly broad, attempting to discern them in a primitive society and from that point of view even the early stages of human development are characterized as global. On the other hand, globalization is understood too narrowly, when modern processes of social development are considered in isolation from their genesis, i.e., when the history and dynamics of the development of international structures and transnational relations are disregarded. Not only can the complexity of the problem be blamed for such a spread of opinions and divergence of viewpoints, but also the insufficient development of the problem itself. Consequently, mutual understanding is impaired, interdisciplinary interaction is hindered, and serious obstacles are created preventing the discovery of the true causes of globalization and the ensuing global contradictions. Herein lie the causes of many conflicts that are generated from the fact that the world is becoming increasingly united, whole, and interrelated, while mechanisms that are meant to regulate social relations globally (world government, world state, united international order enforcement, etc) are lacking. It is quite obvious that, without a deep analysis and adequately clear-cut understanding of modern globalization problems, it will be hard to expect to successfully overcome the above-mentioned problems.

Science and philosophy play a key role in solving these problems-being fundamental components of global studies represented by a diversity of schools, directions, various associations, creative groups, scholars groups, etc. The complex character of the object of research and the inevitable interdisciplinary nature of its approach make it considerably difficult to clearly delineate the objects of scientific analysis, as they often merge with other areas of knowledge: futurology, culturology, and philosophy.

Like other spheres of scientific knowledge pertaining to social processes, global studies often find themselves closely related to the social and economic order of society, politics, and ideology. Taking this factor into account, one can speak of different lines and currents of global studies. Thus, in the period between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1990s, the formation and development of this field of knowledge had taken place under conditions of confrontation between two ideologically hostile social and economic systems, which predetermined its development in two directions, one of them being referred to as “Western global studies” and the other as “Soviet global studies.” In the last decade ideological confrontation gave way to economic, cultural, religious, and national differences which provided the basis for dividing the world into a number of major regions-peculiar subjects in international relations, and cultural-civilizational differences in understanding the tendencies and contradictions of the modern world came to the fore. This factor provides grounds, as before, for identifying in global studies different approaches toward understanding modern world processes, for instance, Western, Eurasian, Oriental, Islamic, etc. From among the many approaches we shall isolate the most wide-spread and frequently referenced in the literature.

Thus, within Western global studies two wings were most clearly identifiable from the very beginning: “technocratic” and “techno-pessimistic.” Their positions later on closed in and at the same time were modified differently under the impact of different evaluations of perspectives on the development of the world market; therefore, this division can now be accepted as being quite relative. Representatives of the first wing with respect to the solution of global contradictions underscore the broad opportunities of science and technology, attach an important significance to scientific-technological progress, and stress its importance and impact on the life of society (T. Veblen, H. Kahn, W. Brown, D. Bell, A. Toffler, A. Turen, A. Shaff, G. Friedrichs, A. Wiener, G. Scott, J. Nesbitt, E. Weizsacker, L. Lovins, and others). “Techno-pessimists” make scientific-technological progress, and major international capital, transnational corporations responsible for the negative consequences of globalization and the deterioration of global problems (H. Marcuse, D. Meadows, K. Boulding, T. Roszak, P. Goodman, M. Roberts, K. Davis, A. Erlich, U. Beck, as well as many other representatives of the “new left,” “greens,” “antiglobalists,” and others).

In Russia science and philosophy are represented in global studies by a number of lines of research which can be provisionally divided into:

1. “Scientific-methodological.” The subjects of research here are philosophical foundations, nature, the genesis of global problems, and an analysis of the most important social, political, and economic transformations required for a successful solution of ensuing problems. The works by V.I. Vernadsky, I.T. Frolov, N.N. Moiseev, V.A. Engelgardt, P.L. Kapitsa, E.K. Fyodorov, N.N. Inozemtsev, D.M. Gvishiani, V.S. Stiopin, V.V. Zagladin, G.S. Khozin, I.B. Novik, I.V. Bestuzhev-Lada, A.S. Panarin, A.V. Katsura, A.I. Utkin, and others acquired popularity and importance.

2. “Social-natural.” This line of research in global studies covers a wide range of ecological problems in which the depletion of raw materials, energy, water, land, and other resources is a source of greatest anxiety and concern. Representatives of natural, technical, and social sciences, politics, production workers, and public workers are in close contact in this line of research. Their efforts are aimed at developing principles and methods of ensuring optimum interaction of society and nature, making production more ecologically safe and facilitate the rational use of nature (A.L. Yanshin, N.F. Reimers, M.M. Kamshylov, G.V. Dobrovolsky, M.I. Budyko, V.A. Kovda, Yu.A. Israel, A.S. Isaev, M.G. Khublaryan, V.I. Danilov-Danilyan, I.I. Masur, V.V. Snakin, E.V. Girusov, A.D. Ursul, and others).

3. “Culturological.” This line of research focuses on problems of globalization arising in the fields of scientific-technological progress, population, health, culture, law, education, and other areas of social life (N.A. Agadzhanyan, S.P. Kapitsa, N.S. Kasimov, G.S. Gudozhnik, E.A. Arab-Ogly, V.V. Petrov, B.Ts. Urlanis, N.M. Mamedov, and others).

Understanding global tendencies and the radical solution of the ensuing problems requires not only theoretical research, but successful practical actions. Thus, global studies are objectively performing an integrating role, helping many scholars take a fresh view of the modern world and realize its participation in the common destiny of humankind. The results of the World Congresses of Philosophy (Brighton, 1988; Moscow, 1993; Boston, 1998), and especially the latest Eleventh World Congress of Philosophy (Istanbul, 2003) under the main theme of “Philosophy Facing World Problems,” provide further evidence. These results indicate that in the modern world scholars of various orientations are increasingly interested in globalization processes, are concerned about problems common to humanity, and, in their professional activities, search for practical solutions. Global tendencies and problems do not leave humankind options other than striving for unity, while preserving the originality of cultures, age-old traditions, and the peculiarities of individual nations and peoples who are overcoming fragmentation and discord. Only in the light of the knowledge that is being worked out and formulated in global studies can we achieve an adequate understanding of the processes and events transpiring in the modern world. See also Global Studies in the Soviet Union; Global Studies in the West; Global Problems of the Modern World; Global Studies in Philosophy; Global Studies in Political Science; Globalization.


References: Globalnie problemy i obshchechelovecheskie tsennosti. Moscow, 1990; Globalnie ekologicheskie problemy na poroge XXI veka. Moscow, 1998; Masur, I.I., Moldovanov, O.I., Shishov, V.N. Inzhenernaya ekologiya. V. 1–2. Moscow, 1996; Masur, I.I., Moldovanov, O.I. Shans na vyzhivaniye. Moscow, 1992; Our Global Neighborhood. Report of Commission on Global Governance and Cooperation. (In Russian.) Moscow, 1996; Katsura, A.V. Ecologicheskiye perspectivy cheloveka. Moscow, 1986; Chumakov, A.N. Filosofiya globalnykh problem. Moscow, 1994; Panarin, A.S. Iskusheniye globalizmom: igry i pravila novoi epokhi. Moscow, 2000; Albrow, M. The Global Age. Cambridge, 1996; Giddens, A. “Globalization: a Keynote Address.” UNRISD News, 1996; Held, D. et al. Global Transformations. Politics, Economics and Culture. Cambridge, 2000; Honey, M. and T. Barry. Global Focus. U.S. Foreign Policy at the Turn of the Millennium. New York, 2000.


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Ph.D., Professor William C. Gay (USA)


NUCLEAR WARFARE AND MORALITY. In each decade of the nuclear age, philosophers have provided critical reflections on the nature, use, and consequences of nuclear weapons. Frequently, these reflections have addressed the morality of producing, testing, deploying, and using nuclear weapons. Already, these philosophical reflections have passed through four phases and are now entering a fifth phase. The first phase stretches from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to the above-ground nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll. From the initial use of atomic weapons in 1945 to the testing of the hydrogen bomb in 1952, the United States held a virtual monopoly. (The Soviet Union tested its first atomic weapon in 1949, and the United States progressed not only to the development of the hydrogen bomb, but also to a miniaturization of nuclear weapons that spawned even more tactical nuclear weapons than the eventual strategic arsenals of the superpowers.) During the 1950s and 1960s, the second phase shifts to a focus on the above-ground testing of the hydrogen bomb, as well as the post-war tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. The third phase addresses increasing shifts during the 1970s and 1980s to counterforce weapons and nuclear war fighting strategies. The fourth phase responds to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and to the problems of nuclear proliferation and nuclear deterrence in the post-Cold War world, culminating with a critique of the renewal of Star Wars in 2001 under the guise of ballistic missile defense. The first decade of the 21st century ushers in not only the purported “war against terrorism” by the United States, but also a broader and deeper philosophical response to the interconnections among violence, terrorism, and war.

General Background

Before proceeding to a discussion of each of these phases of philosophical response, three points need to be made about nuclear weapons and nuclear war. First, nuclear weapons undercut the traditional distinction between military combatants and civilian non-combatants. The strategy of nuclear deterrence is based on the claim that nuclear war is prevented by making the cost of nuclear war prohibitively high. The doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, popularly known by its acronym MAD, is the primary symbol of this dangerous calculus. Of course, as is well known by nuclear planners and government officials, if deterrence fails non-combatants will be the primary victims and just war principles of proportionality and discrimination will be blown apart along with the destruction of civilian populations. Second, because of radioactive fall-out, the use of nuclear weapons entails the precipitation of ecological warfare. The results of the use of nuclear weapons cannot be contained within the territorial boundaries of the fighting nations and will adversely affect not only innocent lives around the globe but also the fragile ecosystem of the entire planet. Third, nuclear war is a contingent event; it is neither necessary nor impossible. Hence, neither resignation to nor denial of nuclear war is logical. Our actions are relevant to the probability of nuclear war. Hence, to paraphrase Immanuel Kant, since hope of avoiding nuclear war is possible, we have a moral responsibility to work against its occurrence.

Our knowledge about nuclear war is based on three primary sources: 1) studies of actual nuclear weapons tests (including the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki); 2) projections on limited and full-scale nuclear war, which normally extrapolate casualties and damage to military and industrial bases, 3) computer simulations and speculative models on possible catastrophic consequences. In considering the possible consequences of nuclear war, a couple of points should be stressed. First, a substantial amount of our reasoning about nuclear war is conjectural. Of course, what we do know empirically indicates that nuclear war is fundamentally distinct in character from conventional war, particularly in its effects on survivors and the environment. Finally, the magnitude of the effects of the use of nuclear weapons makes comparisons of low to high scenarios of damage less significant than the comprehension that even limited nuclear war will have consequences significantly more severe than the most severe effects of most conventional wars.

The Nature of Nuclear Weapons

Conventional and nuclear weapons differ in a variety of important ways. Although in a sense even a club or a spear is a conventional weapon, the term “conventional weapon,” when used in the technical military sense, refers to a device that can cause an explosion. Both conventional and nuclear weapons are alike in that they explode by rapidly releasing large amounts of energy. Moreover, they are alike in that each produces heat (increased temperature) and blast (shock wave). Their distinction hinges on the manner in which energy is released. Whereas conventional weapons rely on chemical reactions in which the atoms in the explosive material are simply rearranged, nuclear weapons rely on the formation of different nuclei by means of subatomic reactions in which protons and neutrons are redistributed. Nuclear weapons release much more energy from much less mass than is the case with conventional weapons, because the forces within nuclei are tremendously greater than those between atoms. Fission of one pound of uranium or plutonium releases about the same explosive energy as the explosion of 8,000 tons of TNT.

In order for nuclear reactions to result in an explosion, the conversion of matter into energy needs to be self-sustaining. The two types of nuclear weapons are based on the two ways in which such chain reactions can be obtained, i.e., the “fission” (splitting) of the heaviest atomic nuclei (specifically uranium-235 and plutonium-239) and “fusion” (joining) of the lightest atomic nuclei (specifically hydrogen isotopes). This second way is by means of thermonuclear processes (that is, ones of very high heat) and the resulting energy is even greater than that obtained from fission. The complete fusion of one pound of the hydrogen isotope deuterium would release about the same explosive energy as the explosion of 26,000 tons of TNT.

The other characteristic of nuclear weapons, which makes them so qualitatively distinct, is radiation. The familiar mushroom cloud symbolizes the post-blast lethality of nuclear weapons. Contaminated debris is sucked up into the atmosphere after a surface blast and falls back to earth as fall-out. Whether exposure is to direct radiation near the blast site or to fall-out downwind from a surface blast, new factors enter into the effects of war. Beyond the initial phenomenon of radiation sickness (which can be lethal), radiation causes long-range carcinogenic and mutagenic damage. Because cancer takes ten, twenty-even forty-years to run its course, the carcinogenic effects of any nuclear detonation last nearly half a century. Mutagenic effects are even more far-reaching, since the prospect of genetic mutations in offspring may not appear for generations (because of factors involving dominant and recessive genes). Until the close of World War II neither combatants nor non-combatants had previously faced war in which the effects could literally be passed on biologically to their descendants. Moreover, these carcinogenic and mutagenic effects, because of the world-wide distribution of fall-out, spill over into parts of the world totally non-involved in the conflict.

Despite these potential problems, nuclear weapons of different types have been designed on the assumption that capability for distinct uses is militarily significant. The terms “strategic” and “tactical” nuclear weapons refer to these distinct military uses and can be correlated with delivery systems and targeting. Strategic weapons refer to nuclear warheads or bombs delivered by intercontinental missiles, intercontinental bombers, or submarines, and strategic weapons are normally of a substantial size (in the megaton range). Until recent developments in the increased accuracy and decreased size of such systems, the assumption was that targeting distinctions could not be respected (i.e., between military and civilian attacks). Because of these developments, a military distinction is now made between strategic counterforce and strategic countervalue weapons. Tactical weapons refer to smaller (in the kiloton range) weapons, ranging from nuclear shells to intermediate-range nuclear missiles, produced for use in battlefield situations.

What are the results of these changes? For four decades the United States and the Soviet Union kept their respective armed interventions from turning nuclear; however, new generations of nuclear weapons, alterations of policies, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union have undercut the reliance on a by-gone past as a guide to how nuclear states will respond to future conflicts. Unless and until the “firebreak” between conventional and nuclear conflict is again crossed, the ability to wage nuclear war remains in question. In addition, insofar as ability and willingness to use nuclear weapons in conflict is dubious, a further problem arises. Nuclear weapons function as a deterrent against aggression only to the extent that the threat of their use is credible. Hence, much of the history of nuclear weapons systems and policies is an endeavor to demonstrate that nuclear nations have the capability for and, under specified conditions, commitment to use of nuclear weapons.

First Phase of Moral Response: From Hiroshima to Bikini

In the first phase of philosophical response, the theme of social responsibility was proclaimed by several philosophers with international reputations. On August 8, 1945, only two days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and a day before the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Albert Camus was the first philosopher to voice ethical concern with an essay in the underground resistance newspaper Combat. On August 18, 1945, Bertrand Russell began his prolonged responses with an essay in Forward. Also in 1945, Jean-Paul Sartre responded with “La Fin de la Guerre” in Temps Modernes, and John Dewey published his seminal essay “Dualism and the Split Atom” in The New Leader. Teilhard de Chardin also made several contributions. Soon, philosophers began to consider whether world government was now needed and feasible. The prominent philosophy journal Ethics published an essay by Emile Benoit-Smullyan and a response by Joseph Neyer on this topic. In other forums, Bertrand Russell and A.C. Ewing provided analyses of arguments about whether the atomic age mandated world government for global security. Finally, several philosophers stressed the prospect that nuclear war could bring about the end of the human species. In particular, John Somerville began his numerous writings on this topic in the late 1940s and continued to do so through each remaining decade of the 20th century.

During the initial phase, two works stand out. First, in 1946 T.V. Smith, a previous editor of Ethics and a prolific contributor to the theory of democracy, published Atomic Power and Moral Faith. This book was the first entire volume by a philosopher to be devoted to reflection on nuclear weapons. Smith stresses the economic, military, and social implications of atomic energy, provides a critique of religious and political sectarianism in the atomic age, and issues an early call for improving U.S.-Soviet relations. Second, in 1948 Daniel S. Robinson published The Principles of Conduct. This book updates and extends points he made in earlier articles. Within the field of applied philosophy (that largely languished until late in the 20th century), he presents concern about the atomic age as pre-eminent for what he terms “political ethics” or what is termed “international politics” in political science.

Second Phase of Moral Response: Above-Ground Tests of Hydrogen Bomb

In the second phase of philosophical response, debate on the extinction thesis received increased attention and participants included several philosophical luminaries. During the 1950s, the earlier hope for international control of atomic weapons was displaced by the harsh realities of the Cold War: the Baruch Plan had been rejected, the hydrogen bomb had been developed, the Chinese Revolution had succeeded, and the Korean War had begun. Against this backdrop, in 1958 Bertrand Russell and Sidney Hook carried on a heated exchange with each arguing from opposite extreme positions. Russell argued nuclear war would destroy all humanity, and Hook argued Soviet communism would destroy all freedom. In the heat of their political fervor, Russell lost sight of the fact that not all of humanity would surely perish in a nuclear war, while Hook lost sight of the fact that no society, not even in the Soviet Union, was completely devoid of freedom. Nevertheless, their extreme, though untenable premises, made arguing for their conclusions rather easy. Russell, of course, was the philosopher who spoke most extensively about the nuclear war throughout this period. He made a dramatic broadcast against the hydrogen bomb for the BBC, initiated the anti-nuclear Pugwash movement, contributed to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and in 1959 published his classic Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare.

One of the most important practical results of the criticisms by ethicists and scientists of above-ground nuclear testing was negotiation and ratification of the Partial Test Ban Treaty. In this regard, along with the “Russell-Einstein Manifesto,” one of the compelling pleas to protect the innocent from the fall-out of above-ground nuclear testing, as well as from the destruction of thermonuclear war, came in 1958 from Albert Schweitzer in Peace or Atomic War? Nevertheless, the Cold warrior position of Hook also had influential representatives, the most famous of whom was Karl Jaspers who in 1958 published Die Atombombe und die Zukunft des Menschen. Like Hook, he advocated risking destruction of humanity in nuclear war over the alternative of risking the loss of our “humanity” under totalitarianism. Less known in this phase are some of the metaphysical assessments of the nuclear age. Though a controversial figure because of his brief affiliation with the Nazis, Martin Heidegger discusses the metaphysics of nuclear weapons in several writings, and several philosophers, particularly in the 1980s, have drawn on his argument that metaphysical reflection on the nuclear age helps us diagnose our plight as would-be controllers (and, potentially, destroyers) of the Earth. He criticizes the arrogance of anthropocentrism and points to a type of nonviolent ecological vigilance in his concept of the Hausfreund-friend of the house of our earth.

Third Phase of Moral Response: The Emergence of Counterforce Strategy

The third phase of philosophical response swelled into prominence because of renewed public concern over the nuclear threat during the 1970s and 1980s. The American Academy of Sciences warned of the dangers of ozone depletion from nuclear detonations, Physicians for Social Responsibility declared the unmanageability of medical problems in a post-attack environment, Jonathan Schell in 1982 in his famous antinuclear manifesto The Fate of the Earth used the term “second death” to refer to the meaning of annihilating humanity in nuclear war, and Carl Sagan popularized the notion of nuclear winter. With these Apocalyptic prognostications, the extremes in arguing about nuclear war were reached. John Somerville honed his earlier argument by coining the term “omnicide”-the irreversible extinction of all sentient life. Beyond revisiting of the extinction thesis, philosophers in the 1970s and especially 1980s produced a deluge of writings seeking to “counter counterforce”-arguing against nuclear war-fighting policies and first-strike weapons. Key journal issues were published by Philosophy and Social Criticism (Gay, 1984) and Ethics (Hardin et al., 1985), and several important anthologies were published, including Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity (Cohen and Lee, 1984) and Nuclear War (Fox and Groarke, 1985). The two philosophers who published most extensively on these topics (and, several times, in response to one another) were Douglas Lackey and Gregory Kavka. Lackey’s main work during this period is Moral Principles and Nuclear Weapons (1984), and Kavka’s main work is Moral Paradoxes of Nuclear Deterrence (1987).

Fourth Phase of Moral Response: End of the Cold War

During the fourth phase of philosophical response, philosophers turned their attention to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and to the continued proliferation of nation-states with nuclear arsenals. Even with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Steven Lee argued in 1993 in Morality, Prudence, and Nuclear Weapons that the threat of nuclear war continues. In the post-Cold War world, a strong case persists concerning the immorality and imprudence of nuclear deterrence, let alone nuclear war. Lee argues for the delegitimization of nuclear weapons and, to achieve this goal, contends war itself needs to be delegitimized. Broader concerns of this type were addressed in 1994 in On the Eve of the 21st Century, edited by William Gay and T.A. Alekseeva; this book, in fact, was the first collaborative work between Russian and American philosophers since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Both Russians and Americans criticize the persistence of Realpolitik and the morality of nuclear deterrence. They also argue for nonviolent approaches to national security. In addition, they re-assess the future of socialism and role of Russia in the post-Cold War world. During this period, Concerned Philosophers for Peace, a North American Philosophical Association, began publishing a Special Series on Philosophy of Peace (POP), published by Rodopi with Joseph Kunkel as the General Editor.

Fifth Phase of Moral Response: The Future of Violence, Terrorism, and War

The final verdict on how philosophers and the world community will respond ethically and politically to the prospects for increased nuclear proliferation and the attendant threat of nuclear war remains to be seen. Nevertheless, a fifth phase of philosophical response began to emerge following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Philosophers are beginning the critical assessment of the connections among violence, terrorism, and war. Increasingly, the argument is being made that the differences among violence, terrorism, and war are more of degree than of kind. The first available response is a special double issue of Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter on “Terrorism and War in the Twenty-First Century” (Gay 2001). The POP Special Series is planning an entire volume devoted to the problem of terrorism. In a new Special Series published by Rodopi with William Gay as the General Editor, Russian and American philosophers are exploring these issues and broader ones of the global quest for justice. Philosophical responses to violence, terrorism, war, nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction likely will continue as long as the earth is plagued by these sources of destruction and as long as philosophers are around to raise moral questions. Given the persistence of their moral critiques, philosophers likely will continue to side with the victims of violence and injustice and to seek to advance a world that will renounce nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.


References: Cohen, A. and S. Lee, eds. Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity. Totowa, NJ, 1984; Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs, eds. Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings. Trans. Eisei Ishikawa and D.L. Swain. New York, 1981; Fox, M.A. and L. Groarke, eds. Nuclear War: Philosophical Perspectives. New York, 1985; Gay, W.C. and M. Pearson, The Nuclear Arms Race. Chicago, 1987; Gay, W., ed. Philosophy and the Debate on Nuclear Weapons Systems and Policies, Philosophy and Social Criticism 10, Nos. 3–4 (1984); Gay, W.C., ed. “Terrorism and War in the Twenty-First Century,” Special Double Issue of Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 21 (2001); Gay, W.C. and T.A. Alekseeva, eds. Democracy and the Quest for Justice: Russian and American Perspectives. Amsterdam, 2002; Gay, W.C. and T.A. Alekseeva, eds. On the Eve of the 21st Century: Perspectives of Russian and American Philosophers. Lanham, MD, 1994; Glasstone, S. and Ph.J. Dolan. The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. Washington, DC, 1977; Hardin, R. et al., eds. Symposium on Ethics and Nuclear Deterrence, Ethics 95 (1985); Jaspers, K. The Future of Mankind. Trans. E.B. Ashton. Chicago, 1961; Kavka, G. Moral Paradoxes of Nuclear Deterrence. Cambridge, 1987; Lackey, D. Moral Principles and Nuclear Weapons. Totowa, NJ, 1984; Lee, S. Morality, Prudence, and Nuclear Weapons. Cambridge, 1993; Russell, B. Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare. London, 1959.


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From «Global Studies Encyclopedia»


Ph.D., Professor T. Kamusella (Poland)


NATION (Latin natio, derived from nascor, I am born) is at present the most accepted unit of social organization. Ideally, it should correspond to the nation-state, this is, the basic unit of the political organization of the world at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is maintained that the nation grants the state with indispensable legitimacy, so that only nation-states can function as full-fledged actors of international relations within the framework of the Global State System. States that are not nation-states one considers to be faulty. They have to get transformed into nation-states or perish.

For the nation to enjoy full acceptance, it must be clothed in the mantle of its own nation-state. Otherwise, it is a stateless nation. But the community of nations with their own states does not readily recognize stateless nations because fulfilling the political aspirations of the latter may endanger the political existence of the former. For stateless nation to win its own nation-state in the world already tightly divided among the extant nation-states, it would have to seize a piece of a territory in the possession of one or more established nation-states. So, unless a stateless nation’s political aspirations are suppressed, at most, it can achieve cultural and/or administrative rights or autonomy within an existing nation-state that is not the stateless nation’s. After the break-up of the Soviet Union and of the multinational federation of Yugoslavia, it is neigh to impossible for aspiring stateless nations to obtain their own fully independent nation-states. Such a feat came true only in the case of the Eritreans after the long and bloody war with Ethiopia (1993), and of the Slovaks and the Czechs (1993) because the mono-national Czechoslovakia of the postulated Czechoslovaks had never materialized.

In line with the tenets of nationalism, the nation is understood as a cohesive and homogenous group of people of the highest taxonomic order that, nowadays, obtains within the human species. There is no higher form of social organization. Some authors postulate such cultural-political entities as “civilizations,” but there are no cohesive social or political units that would correspond to them. The only exception is China. Often considered a civilization, it is a nation-state of the Chinese. This example, however, is faulty on two counts. First, China is a legitimate political entity because it is a state. Its being a civilization is of no defining significance in this context. Second, the Chinese are not seen as a “civilizational ecumene” but as a nation.

Sometimes the postulated cultural-cum-political shells of the Islamic and Western civilizations are said to correspond with the communities of believers of the Christians (cf. Respublica Christiana) and the Muslims (ummah). However, should one follow the scheme of Huntington, Christians of the West also populate the “civilizations” of Latin America, the Orthodox world, and much of sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, besides the Islamic world, Muslims live in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Hindu civilization of India. Their sizeable communities, moreover, grow quickly in the West, too. What is more, neither of these two communities of believers is homogeneous, being split by serious divisions in creed and doctrine. Politically these differences lend themselves as the basis for the construction and ideological fortification of various nations and nation-states.

Thus, so far, the nation remains the highest taxonomic unit in the social organization of the Homo sapiens sapiens. Likewise, the nation-state functions as the highest taxonomic unit of political organization that contains a homogeneous population (i.e., the nation). The rise of supra-state structures has not altered this situation yet. But should the European Union (EU) ensure full citizenship and the same rights for all the citizens of its member nation-states, a new quality may arise. Namely, a supranational social unit may be forged in direct correspondence to the EU’s quality of suprastateness. What if nationalism remains the world’s most potent legitimizing ideology? Then the future Union’s unitary citizenry may turn into a civic nation of multi-ethnic origins connected to the Union’s member nation-states.

Some scholars opine the nation to be a fictious entity. Some claim that it is the sociopolitical “tangibility” of the state’s institutions that contain and shape previously disparate groups of people. Then the correct name for such a state-sponsored grouping would be “state-nation,” and the notion of the “nation-state” would be a contradiction in terms that would give ontological primacy to the nation, which, in this view, is secondary and subordinated to the state. Others maintain that without the pale of state the only groups that can be real are ones that are biologically interlinked (i.e., share genealogical ancestors) and/or form small communities whose members intensively interact with one another on everyday basis. A certain way out of this dilemma is Benedict Anderson’s thesis that the nation is an imagined community. In order to come true it must be created either by the state or the ethnically based national movement. This creation boils down to convincing the potential members of the postulated nation that they do form a nation. Should this attempt at social engineering be successful the nation is “imagined” into being. This entails that the nation is an imagined entity; nevertheless, if imagined successfully, it becomes real.

Within the broader framework of nation-building, the homogeneity of the nation can be achieved either through employing the civic or the ethnic. In the former case, it is the state that makes its population into the nation granting the inhabitants with citizenship. Citizenship also functions as the sign of membership in this civic nation, so it equals nationality. In ethnic nationalism, one’s nationality is pegged onto a specific ethnicity defined through culture, language, religion, history, traditional way of life, tradition, mythology, etc. Ethnically construed nationality is the indispensable condition of obtaining citizenship of the ethnic nation’s nation-state. In the civic mode of nation-building, described by John Breuilly, on the basis of common citizenship, the state employs its administration, army and educational system to inculcate the targeted population with the same national attitude. In this manner the people (i.e., citizens) come to identify with the state’s history, symbols, territory, and language. Eventually, the civic nation comes into being and the state overhauls itself into a nation-state. In the absence of the state the ethnic kind of nation-building dominates. In its framework, analyzed by Miroslav Hroch, initially a tiny group of scholars-ethnic activists decide on elements (language, customs, religion, history, symbols) that should be made into the ethnic paradigm of the postulated ethnic nation. Next, the initiative group evolves into the politically motivated national movement that strives to convince the ethnic nation’s potential members to accept and/or assimilate to this paradigm as theirs. If the movement achieves this goal the ethnic nation is born. The national leaders can draw on this nation as a source of legitimacy and military clout in order to win a separate nation-state for their nation. Should this wish of national statehood materialize, the newly founded nation-state takes over the national movement’s role to deepen the common national attitude in this nation.

Usually, the extant nation-states profess nationalisms that are mixtures of the ethnic and the civic to a varying degree. However, broadly speaking, ethnic nation-states predominate in Eurasia while civic ones elsewhere. Comparing the civic and ethnic modes of nation-building, one can say that in the absence of their own nation-states, stateless nations have no choice but to ground their claims to nationness in ethnicity. Conversely, there are no civic stateless nations unless in the war-time conditions when their nation-states find themselves under a foreign occupation. Occupation, however, rarely results in internationally recognized liquidation of a state, let alone of the nation associated with it.

From the geographic and demographic points of view, nations vary from continent-wide to tiny. The most populous nations are those of India and China that together (at 2.3 billion) account for more than one-third of humankind. At the other extreme there are the insular nations of the Naurans and the Tuvaluans. Each numbers about 10 thousand, and their nation-states are 21 and 26 sq km, respectively. Russia and Canada are the world’s largest nation-states with the territories of 17 million sq km and 10 million sq km, respectively. From the standpoint of time, the rainbow (multiracial) nation of Mauritius cannot claim any past extending beyond 1721 because this island was uninhabited prior to this date. The year is also known when the Tuvaluans will lose their nation-state. Their islands endangered by flooding due to the warming of the globe’s climate, the nation decided to abandon their home and leave for New Zealand in 2002. Last but not least, the largest stateless nations include the Catalans and the Kurds who number 6 million and 16–35 million, respectively. The territory of the autonomous community of Catalonia (32 thousand sq km) and the area of Kurdish settlement (409 thousand sq km, claimed as coterminous with the postulated Kurdistan) dwarf many a European nation-state. On top of that, there are also polities in search of their nations in order to become nation-states eligible for full membership in the realm of international relations. Among others, they include Gibraltar (30 thousand inhabitants, 5.8 sq km) and Monaco (30 thousand inhabitants, 1.8 sq km). Both chose nationalism in order to prevent submersion into the Spanish and French nation, respectively. The loss of sovereignty would deprive these statelets and their corresponding populations of numerous economic and political advantages.

Taking into consideration these wide territorial and demographic brackets, one wonders what makes a nation? First of all, it is a separate nationalism that the state’s elites or the national movements use to build the postulated nation and to legitimize its existence. Second, to use Anderson’s famous formulation: every nation is an imagined community. In order to come true its potential members must wish such a nation to be established and to believe in its existence in order to maintain the nation’s sociopolitical reality. This process of imagining nations into being conveniently becomes forgotten when nations have been shaped and secured in the cocoons of their nation-states. When no national struggle or propaganda is needed any more to form and maintain the nation, nationalism turns into a transparent category. According to this ideology’s tenets everybody acts without noticing the national. This is the time of “banal nationalism” usually enjoyed by the nations with long-established nation-states. This coupling of the nation with its nation-state seems to the people belonging to this nation so obvious and natural that they anachronistically project this national reality onto the furthest past of a territory claimed by historians as belonging to this nation from times immemorial. And not only onto the past but as well as on the populations who inhabited this land hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Let us remark that radical Macedonian nationalists identify the beginning of their Slavophonic nation with Alexander the Great though it is known that Slavs settled in the Balkans beginning in the 6th century. This ancient conqueror of the 4th century B.C. had reigned over the ethnically different Macedonians who had spoken a language related to Greek.

It is the basic characteristic of the imagined community that one cannot establish face-to-face contact with all its members. Instead, this everyday face-to-face contact crucial for cohesion and the existence of human groups has to be mediated through state institutions, elites, history, beliefs, language, tradition, myths of common origin, religion, and so on in order to produce and reproduce the imagined community of a homogeneous nation. Additionally, the national message forged from these elements gets conveyed in an ever fortified feedback to the nation’s members through the proliferating mass media of the press, cheap books, the cinema, radio, television, audio and video cassettes, satellite and cable TV, CDs, and the Internet.

“Imaginedness” is a malleable concept because even small village communities and family groups are imagined to a certain degree. They share some values and cultural behaviors necessary to allow them to function as such communities and groups. The degree of imaginedness grows when a cohesive group embraces more members. A person can engage in face-to-face contact with roughly 150–200 people given constraints of time and the brain’s retrieval capacity. Hence, it is safe to say that for a nation to be one, it should contain at least one thousand people. The upper limit of the nation’s membership cannot be established though. One can infer that the nation’s demographic size can be restricted by the environmental capacity of its state or area of residence as well as by the efficiency of the national institutions responsible for establishing and maintaining the national cohesion. Due to the relatively short period in which nations and their nation-states have existed there is no empirical basis to say what the threshold is. Looking at the Chinese and the Indians, it is safe to remark that the current nation-states have at their disposal instruments to maintain cohesive nations numbering two billion members. On the other hand, it seems that non-state-related institutions and social-cohesion-maintenance methods do not let stateless nations grow beyond the mark of 10–30 million members.

In the past the concept of nation played a very positive role through ensuring full participation in political life for all the population of a civic nation-state. Also groups marginalized because of their specific ethnicity in pre-national multiethnic states used nationalism to achieve improvement of their underprivileged status through gaining various legal concessions or even autonomy and separate statehood. Today the political notion of nation allows empowering the so-called “indigenous peoples” (i.e., Native Americans in both the Americas, the Aborigines in Australia, or the Yakuts in Siberia) and ghettoized immigrant groups. Nationalism enables the former to reinvent themselves as nations and as such be equal to the nations on the territories of whose nation-states these indigenous peoples reside. Similarly, ethnically distinctive immigrant groups can use nationalism to secure for themselves the status of a national minority or at least a group whose national culture should be cherished and preserved in the host nation-state.

Last but not least, the new transportation and communication technologies seem to deterritorialize nationalism. The nation is gradually detached from its nation-state or area of traditional residence. First, immigration even to a different continent does not mean severing one’s ties with one’s nation and nation-state. Such an immigrant tends to keep the citizenship of his or her original nation-state even if this individual acquires citizenship of the host state. This individual and his or her children may maintain intensive links with their nation regularly calling, writing, e-mailing and visiting their kin “at home.” Second, the Pacific islet of Nauru gradually disappears due to intensive phosphate mining. The Naurans disperse all over the world but they remain linked through Nauran citizenship and sharing in their nation-state’s mining revenue allocated to the citizens. Similar legal-economic measures may be employed to preserve the national cohesion of the Tuvaluans who, in 2002, will leave their atolls endangered through oceanic submersion and of the Maldivans who face the same fate. In the future, this deterritorializing tendency may grant nations more political legitimacy at the cost of the national in nation-states, thus, increasingly relegating them to the status of mere states. Then the ethnic would gain the upper hand over the civic. The globalized world would become the place where groups or even individuals of variegated national-legal-economic statuses would live side by side in different states. They would treat these states as mere stopovers in one’s job and living choices that make one constantly move from one state to another.


References: Anderson, B. “Long-Distance Nationalism.” In: Anderson, B. The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World. London, 1998; Billig, M. Banal Nationalism. London, 1995; Dunbar, R.I.M. Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language. Cambridge, MA, 1996; Everard, J. Virtual States: The Internet and the Boundaries of the Nation-State. London, 2000; Hobsbawm, E.J. and T. Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, 1983; Lewis, B. The Multiple Identities of the Middle East. New York, 1998; Mendelsohn, O. and U. Baxi, eds. The Rights of Subordinated Peoples. Delhi, 1994.

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