Why the Atomic Bombs Should Not Have Been Dropped

1986 Words8 Pages
On August 5, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in military history on Hiroshima. Three days later, they dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki before Japan could respond to the extent of the devastation. This played a key role in ending World War II, but resulted in the killings of over 200,000 Japanese civilians (eHistory). This historical event is still a decision that is often debated on moral grounds today. However, there are some philosophies and schools of thought which, when applied to the issue, are more likely to lead one to gain a more thorough understanding of why the action was unethical and should not have been committed. Among these are utilitarianism, Immanuel Kant’s Duty Theory, the definition of terrorism, the Just War Theory, and absolute pacifism. One of the most common philosophical justifications for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan is utilitarianism, arguing that using the nuclear weapons saved more lives in the long run and ultimately reduced the suffering of the greatest number of people. Those that follow this utilitarian rationale support their opinion by using the notion that if the United States had not dropped the bombs, they would have had to invade Japan, which would have resulted in many more American casualties. However, before dropping the bombs, General MacArthur had estimated that about 31,000 American casualties would occur by invading Japan, and calculated that even fewer American lives would be lost by continuing with conventional bombing on Japan and establishing a naval blockade, eventually forcing Japan’s surrender within six months (CSIS.org). This suggests that although invading Japan might have resulted in more American casualties, a more utilitarian course would have been to take General MacArthur’s recommended course of action than to use nuclear weapons on Japan, which resulted in more than
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