Seminar Week 11 – The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb In this week’s seminar we explore the debate over the American use of the Atomic bomb as a means to end the war in the Pacific. At the same time that this is a historical debate, dealing with the questions of ‘who knew what when’, it is also a moral one. As such, both sides appeal not only to the historical evidence, but also to emotions and moral values. The three authors we read this week provide a good cross section of the con, pro, and mixed positions in the debate. The challenge this week is to dissect the arguments from each camp in order to see how each one justifies its position, and to assess which camp you think makes the more convincing argument. Discussion Questions: Gar Alperovitz “Dropping the Atomic Bomb was Neither Necessary Nor Justifiable” What arguments does this author make to justify his point that the decision to drop the atomic bombs was “neither necessary nor justifiable”? Robert P. Newman “Dropping the Bomb Was Necessary and Justifiable” What arguments does this author refute in order to justify his point that the decision to drop the atomic bombs was “necessary and justifiable”? Barton J. Bernstein “Were There Viable Alternatives to Dropping the Atom Bomb?” What alternatives does the author identify to using atomic weapons in Japan? How does the author complicate the questions of necessity and justification of dropping atom bombs to end the war in the Pacific? Overall, which argument do you find the most convincing? Why?