Imagine you’re the commander in chief of a country fighting a war with a fascist dictatorship. The enemy army is losing the war but is going to fight until the last man. You have to end the war quickly or millions of soldiers – and a good number of civilians – on both sides are going to die during years of skirmishes. You basically have only one option: one huge explosion killing almost the entire enemy army, but also a large number of civilians. You have two bombs, a traditional atomic bomb and a neutron bomb.
A neutron bomb, or enhanced radiation weapon (ERW), is a type of nuclear weapon designed specifically to release a large portion of its energy as energetic neutron radiation rather than explosive energy. Although their extreme blast and heat effects are not eliminated, the increased radiation released by ERWs is meant to be a major source of casualties, able to penetrate buildings and armored vehicles to kill personnel that would otherwise be protected from the explosion. Most of the injuries inflicted by an ERW come from the intense pulse of ionizing radiation, not from heat and blast. This intense burst of high-energy neutrons is intended as the principal killing mechanism, but some amounts of heat and blast force are also produced. Neutron bombs are commonly believed to leave a good deal of the infrastructure intact.
A neutron bomb is sometimes claimed to be morally superior to a regular atomic bomb since the survivors will be able to rebuild their societies relatively quickly after the end of the war: the destruction it causes is minimal. On the other hand, the neutron bomb is commonly abhorred and has become something like the ultimate horror in popular culture.
More moral dilemma’s here. Those other dilemma’s are still open to vote, by the way. So if you have a couple of minutes, we would very much appreciate your contribution.