Document Type




Publication Date

Fall 2016


Philosophy Documentation Center

Source Publication

Environmental Ethics

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics201638325


Despite the U.S. government’s failure to isolate from the biosphere the highly radioactive spent fuel that has been accumulating at nuclear power plants for sixty years, some governmental officials, scientists, nuclear industrialists, and environmentalists are urging increased reliance on nuclear-generated electricity as part of the strategy to mitigate global warming. An ethi­cal analysis of their proposal is warranted, and one promising approach is the theologically grounded process of making prudent decisions like those that Thomas Aquinas outlined and explained in the thirteenth century. Following his detailed method of discovering the facts, identifying a justifiable course of action, and commanding its implementation, it can be concluded that adding more nuclear capacity to our nation’s energy mix is imprudent and will produce intergenerational injustice until the isolation of the spent fuel at existing plants is underway and space is assured for the spent fuel removed from new nuclear reactors. The primary motivation for converting from the ongoing national vices of imprudence and intergenerational injustice to a nation characterized by the virtues of prudence and justice is love for others when expressed and demonstrated inclusively.


Accepted version. Environmental Ethics, Vol 38, No. 3 (Fall 2016): 259-286. DOI. © 2016 Philosophy Documentation Center. Used with permission.