Conceptions of the Bomb in the Early Nuclear Age

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    Abstract

    In this chapter, Casper Sylvest explores the role of nuclear weapons in intellectual history during the early decades of the Cold War, predominantly in the US and Europe. The chapter opens with a discussion of the role of nuclear weapons technology in transforming both scientific knowledge about the planet and the landscape of intellectual debate. Sylvest then turns to the conceptions of this technology among policymakers, military figures, scientists and public intellectuals. Four sites of contestation are singled out: the question of morality, the question of use, the question of stability and a more amorphous set of questions associated with the human condition in the nuclear age. In conclusion, Sylvest reflects on the nature of nuclear weapons and our historical understanding of them.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNon-Nuclear Peace : Beyond the Nuclear Ban Treaty
    EditorsTom Sauer, Jorg Kustermans, Barbara Segaert
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Publication date2020
    Pages11-37
    Chapter2
    ISBN (Print)978-3-030-26687-5
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-26688-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2020
    SeriesRethinking Peace and Conflict Studies

    Keywords

    • Intellectual history
    • Morality
    • Nuclear weapons
    • Stability
    • The human condition
    • Use

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