Citizens’ General Preferences Towards Arms Exports: Deontological vs. Consequential Considerations

Note short: 
27.03.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Lukas Rudolph
Lecturer affiliation: 
LMU München

Despite fierce politicization in arms-exporting democracies, we lack systematic research on mass public preferences on arms transfers. We propose that citizens either apply a deontologist (rejecting transfers categorically) or consequentialist (trading-off economic, strategic and normative aspects) calculus of preference formation. Conducting population-representative survey experiments (N=6,617) in Germany and France, two global top-5 major arms exporters, we find that 10-15% of respondents follow deontologist considerations, a preference structure potentially relevant for all foreign policies involving the use of military force. Still, a majority shows differentiated preferences, giving largest weight to normative considerations, with assessments affected by moderating features (e.g., scenarios of “just war”). Principled rejection of arms trade and a large consequentialist weight for normative factors are more pronounced in Germany compared to France, indicating that public opinion might pose a stronger constraint in this country. Respondents' preferences match opinion polls on post-Russian invasion Ukraine-armament, indicating high external validity of our experiments.