Of all the different issues we face, three problems pose existential challenges to our species. These three existential challenges are nuclear war, ecological collapse, and technological disruption. We should focus on them.
We’ve talked about just war, and we’ve used just war theory as a template for discussing just rebellion. And we’ve talked about the justice that enables a rebellion to take place. And we’ve also talked about what is just conduct within that rebellion, in both cases borrowing from just war theory. What happens, however, if rebellion uses war as one of its instruments to achieve its aims?
In 1840, when the first official British presence touched down in New Zealand, it was led by a very idealistic young naval captain, Captain Hobson. And he gathered together representatives of most of the tribes in New Zealand. And at the Treaty of Waitangi he agreed that there should be certain rights that would be inherent within the Māori nation if they pledged allegiance to Queen Victoria.
There are many changes to our institutions and our norms and our ideas that can reduce or eliminate the risks of nuclear war without what I consider a rather quixotic attempt to change the course of human evolution.
I want you to imagine the ability to take a few drops of someone’s blood, to combine that with some cognitive and some physical testing, and to be able to figure out where that person is going to be most effective in your military.
One of the most recent paradigms that we’ve used to try to get this under experimental control is to ask people to act out pretend harmful actions. So for instance, we’ll give them a disabled handgun. We’ll show them that it’s fake. That it couldn’t possibly harm a fly. We put it in their hands and then we ask them to shoot us in the head.