Weapons Free: The Security Philosophy of the United States

The purpose of this thesis is to explore how advances in the field of philosophy and the technological progress in the military sector have impacted American political attitudes and decisions in the national security realm since the start of the 20th century. Given the inherent link between law and morality in our society, an evaluation was conducted regarding the historical foundations for our modern conceptualizations of just war and the dominant political philosophies during the founding of the United States. Superior military technology gave a country a significant edge in war, and by extension, technologically advanced countries were able to figuratively advance their political philosophies on the tip of a spear. New weapons posed new challenges, often blurring the traditionally established rules of moral conduct in war. The desire to standardize the rules of combat led the international community to create and adopt sets of rules and restrictions that sought to capture the essence of morality in war that ancient philosophers aspired to attain. Several competing philosophies have been proposed to help guide policymakers in their decision making in the modern era whose defining characteristic is the speed in which change occurs. As technology changes, so will the challenges that the United States government will face both domestically and abroad. The key to overcoming these problems rests in the government’s ability to exercise prudence that is proportionate to the threat that the nation faces so that a balance can be struck between individual liberties and national security.

A capstone project submitted to the faculty of the California Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.