Turns out, I have to be difficult: I can’t just pick one of the many cases we’ve looked at, or even the obvious ones related to those. Nope, rereading the prompt for the aptly titled “Paper 2” left me with incredibly frustrating inspiration, which I suppose is better than none at all. And it’s wonderful.
I want to write a case study and ethics paper about the Manhattan Project.
As a youngish child who had just realized what the atomic bomb was and what that meant, my first thought was a string of questions about how it was made- who made it? How did it work? Why did they choose one that would do more than just blow up? Wasn’t radiation what they were injecting into my Grandpa to help with his cancer? (Let it be, I was young and having an existential crisis.)
So I researched it. The Manhattan Project was never, like, my big obsession or whatever, it was just interesting to me, especially Dr. Oppenheimer, the man who was always at the core of it all. I found quotes of his before and after the completion of the Project. I learned that he went about things in a totally different way. In Org Theory (shout-out to Dr. Martin!), I learned about the incredible endeavor that the project was, and how Oppenheimer’s distinct style or organization and leadership is what allowed it all to happen.
In Los Alamos, there was a small city comprised of many of the brightest minds in America, all working feverishly toward building a machine that could wipe a city off the map. They knew what they were doing and raced forward at a breakneck pace, until they saw it work. Then, only some of them continued the race forward.
There are so many ethical questions here, the difficulty with this paper is going to really be to narrow it down to a couple manageable ones. It’d be very easy to write a paper about how we should/n’t have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but that’s not my goal here. At an organizational level, what did it actually mean to all of these scientists? Was it a bomb, or a big puzzle?