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New Publication in Top Journal on Attitudes towards Arms Exports in France and Germany


Just published online:

Rudolph, Lukas, Markus Freitag, Thurner, Paul W., 2023: Deontological and consequentialist preferences towards arms exports: A comparative conjoint experiment in France and Germany. European Journal of Political Research.

Abstract: 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 = 6617) in Germany and France, two global top-five major arms exporters, we find that 10–15 per cent 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 for government policy in this country. Respondents' preferences match opinion polls on post-Russian invasion Ukraine armament, indicating high external validity of our experiments.