28 octBenoît Pelopidas (SciencesPo, CERI) « Taking luck seriously in a nuclear-armed world », Thursday December 7th 2017

This book is an intervention at three levels, which is laid out in its first part. Conceptually, it shows that one can define luck as a distinct and researchable concept. Empirically, the book uses untapped primary sources to document two cases in which nuclear explosions have been avoided out of luck and not due to control practices. Epistemologically, it identifies five expert practices that make luck invisible or a priori inconsequential to analysts and scholars alike.
Given that policymakers have paid tribute to luck in the non-catastrophic outcome of nuclear crises for a long time (Acheson as early as 1969, McNamara 2003, Leonov 2002…) and that the consensus on the Cuban Missile Crisis over the last 25 years has established the role of luck without it leading to major chances in expert claims of control and control practices, the second part of the book investigates what the implications of taking luck seriously would be on four key dimensions of responsibility in international politics: the nexus between security and sustainability; morality and the issue of moral luck; recognition as taking luck seriously changes the possibility and meaning of trust, and democratic accountability. The book will conclude by reflecting on redefining responsibility in light of those four dimensions.

Sciences Po
199, Bd Saint Germain
3ème étage


Discussant: Benjamin Puybareau (CERI-Namur)

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