Super Soldiers? The Ethics of Drugs in Warfare
World Forum and Zoom
This event is presented by Perry World House.
In the run-up to World War Two, the Nazi armed forces began distributing a new drug to their soldiers. Pervitin – an early form of crystal meth – could keep combatants awake for as long as 50 hours, enabling them to march and fight for days on end. It could just as easily kill them: men who took the drug could die from heart failure, experience hallucinations, or suffer depression.
This state-sanctioned methamphetamine use is just one example of how drugs have been deployed on the battlefield throughout history and across cultures, and how badly they can harm the soldiers, pilots, and sailors who use them. Fighters take drugs not only for energy – like the “go pills,” stimulants used by American combatants in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s – but to ready themselves for battle or to numb the traumatic experience of warfare.
As the pharmaceutical industry develops new drugs and the nature of war itself changes, Perry World House will explore the medical ethics of soldiers taking drugs to enhance their performance and the legal consequences of using substances and hallucinogens in warfare.
Lukasz Kamieński , associate professor at the Jagiellonian University and the author of Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare.
Claire Finkelstein, Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy
Jonathan D. Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen and Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor
Beth Simmons, Andrea Mitchell Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor of Law, Political Science and Business Ethics
Perry World House is a center for scholarly inquiry, teaching, research, international exchange, policy engagement, and public outreach on pressing global issues. Perry World House’s mission is to bring the academic knowledge of the University of Pennsylvania to bear on some of the world’s most pressing global policy challenges, and to foster international policy engagement within and beyond the Penn community.