Nuclear power is neither right nor wrong : the case for a tertium datur in the ethics of technology

R. Hillerbrand, M.B. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The debate over the civilian use of nuclear power is highly polarised. We argue that a reasonable response to this deep disagreement is to maintain that advocates of both camps should modify their positions. According to the analysis we propose, nuclear power is neither entirely right nor entirely wrong, but rather right and wrong to some degree. We are aware that this non-binary analysis of nuclear power is controversial from a theoretical point of view. Utilitarians, Kantians, and other moral theorists make sharp, binary distinctions between right and wrong acts. However, an important argument speaking in favour of our non-binary analysis is that it better reflects our considered intuitions about the ethical trade-offs we face in discussions of nuclear power. The aim of this article is to make this argument sharp by explaining how it can be rendered compatible with, and supported by, the Capability Approach, which is quickly becoming one of the most influential frameworks for thinking about human development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-595
Number of pages14
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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