About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Full unilateral disarmament?

No, guys, the other day I wasn't arguing for full unilateral disarmament on the part of the US, France, Russia, India, Pakistan, etc. (wait, that would be multi-lateral, wouldn't it?). As much as that would obviously be both a good idea and the decent thing to do, I know better than to propose it as a serious option at the moment.

However, the issue with “rogue” states such as Iran (and let's not forget North Korea), is one of credibility. It is simply preposterous (and it clearly looks that way when one is on the receiving end) to tell others that they can't have what we so obviously flaunt. The same applies, say, to international treaties on reducing pollution and the overall impact on the environment. The so-called “developing” countries typically object, and rightly so, that it is all and well for rich Europe and US to take the high moral road (which, of course, the US under Bush has actually not done), because their citizens are already quite rich, thank you very much.

The way to go then – both on the environment and nuclear technology – is to acknowledge the unfairness of the situation, take serious steps to decreased one's own environmental footprint and nuclear arsenal, while at the same time making the argument that just because we were idiotic in the past it don't mean you ought to go the same way too.

But of course that would require a degree of frankness and true moral judgment that is quite unthinkable from this or any recent US administration.

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