The relevance of STS to peach research: the need for a third voice on nuclear strategy

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Virginia Tech


Discipline-based studies of international conflict are inadequate for a critical, normative study of the problems of the nuclear era. Peace research is an evolving discipline which attempts to form an integrated, critical analysis of problems posed by nuclear weapons. This thesis examines the response of peace research to the "scientization" of military strategy, i.e, the application of decision-theoretic and Simulation methods to nuclear policy. Debates on nuclear deterrence between nuclear strategists and peace researchers tend to get polarized in terms of an objective analysis of the "realities" of the international system versus’ moral objections to the presence of nuclear weapons. This thesis demonstrates the need for integrating STS-related issues concerned with the technical capabilities of nuclear weapons into the peace researcher's critique. Thus, by illustrating the political nature of scientific and technological claims, STS can aid the transformative agenda of peace research.