Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Jordan Branch

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© 2024 Frank R Applebaum


Many modern nations that consider themselves democracies rely on strategy of national defense involving nuclear weapons. These weapons, however, almost always require a compromise of many of the values these democracies typically claim to value and uphold in the world. Most importantly, the deliberative process that is required for democracy is removed from the decision to either launch or not launch nuclear weapons. Even if policies were changed to attempt to make the process for democratic, research shows that there is reason to believe nuclear weapons would be incompatible with democracy practically as well as theoretically. Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy accidents have been shown by research to fulfil a particular and unique place in the minds of the public. Taking the public reaction to the Three Mile Island and Fukushima nuclear accidents as case studies, I argue that democratic deliberation and communication breaks down. While the contradiction between democracy and nuclear arsenals is widely shown, many defend their use. I argue that the primary arguments for this justification are either liberal in that they argue nuclear weapons are required to protect certain values, or they are realist in that that argue nuclear weapons promote peace.