Just war theory and pacifism

Revisiting Just War Theory Published: December 17, Larry May, Contingent Pacifism:

Just war theory and pacifism

The proposed ideal is that social intercourse should be completely non-violent and peaceful, and conflicts which may arise should be dealt with through arbitration and compromise rather than with recourse to violent means.

Absolutist pacifism asserts that peace is intrinsically a good to be upheld either as a duty or on the consequentialist grounds that it is more conducive to human welfare than any use of violence or force.

Just war theory and pacifism

The ethical evaluation of these two positions, the deontological and the consequentialist, provides the traditional framework in which ethicists examine pacifism. But what becomes an immediate concern is the kind of pacifism that is intended.

Pacifism for many means an anti-war stance, but pacifism can also be construed as a broader theory incorporating doctrines of non-violence, passive resistance, and moral purity. Although the emphasis on pacifism as an anti-war doctrine is the focus of this article, the other nuances of the theory need to be noted.

The first issue to deal with is that while pacifism emphasizes the role that peace should play, there are three general aspects derived from the nature of peaceful relations. First, there is the absolute prohibition of war; second, the absolute prohibition of violence or force ; and third, the absolute prohibition of killing.

The three areas of ethical investigation certainly overlap, and most pacifists hold an ethic of non-violence, which underpins both their disdain of killing and of war. Others, however, deny any moral validity to war Just war theory and pacifism accept the use of force or violence and even killing under criteria established by the rule of law; some seek a purely non-violent way of Just war theory and pacifism, where as other pacifists are solely nuclear pacifists in that they accept the use of conventional war but not nuclear war.

Before moving onto an ethical analysis of pacifism, the concepts of killing, violence, force, and innocents are reviewed. Killing Morally, the topic of killing is intricate and complex, deserving a separate consideration, however, for the purposes of examining the various possible readings of pacifism, it can be generally asserted that pacifists cannot condone killing.

Their beliefs emphasize the sanctity of human life, according it a special moral status that necessitates strong justifications for the injuring, harming, restraining, or killing of another. Absolute pacifists deny that there can be any justification for killing.

The Mosaic command, thou shalt not kill resounds throughout much Western culture and philosophy and is the starting point for absolutist prohibitions on the killing of people in the Western philosophical tradition.

Ethically, the problem of killing divides between passive and active killing as well as intentional, unintentional, and foreseeable variations. The pacifist needs to relate his general moral outlook to these particular areas. For example, would the pacifist prohibit all forms of killing, including mercy killings and killings in self-defense?

Is it any form of killing that the pacifist prohibits, or only those of innocents lives, or those in foreign territories? Or does the pacifist draw a distinction between killing and murder, with the implication that killing could be morally acceptable e.

Even so, a pacifist could consistently claim that he would prefer to die rather than raise his fist to protect himself. In such ethics, the evil of killing in self-defense outweighs the moral value of the victim s own life and the moral purity of the pacifist is to be upheld as the governing ethic.

But self-immolation and especially sacrifice are ultimately illogical, for if all were to sacrifice themselves in the quest for moral purity, none would be left to continue the human race.

However, the pursuit of purity can also be criticized for being other-worldly, unrealistic, and utopian, and in turn purification policies have also often become crusades against sinners and heretics cf.

Barrington Moore s Moral Purity and Persecution in Historywhich even the Buddhist religion is not averse to accepting. The pacifist who seeks, regardless of the actions of others, moral purity often requires subsidizing or free rides on the moral impurity of others.

The reply is cogent, however it admits a moral division in humanity, namely that some are morally better than others and that others live to serve the priests, an argument that moral egalitarians "each to count for one and no more than one" Bentham would reject.

Engaging faith and pacifism

While a few pacifists especially in the religious vein may accept the absolute ideal of peace, most have to justify their enjoyment of peace at the expense of others who actively defend the lives of their fellow citizens as well as those of the pacifists.

I still believed that the position of the pacifist was ultimately right but I was beginning to realize that, at the same time, I could not stand aside from the struggle which was engulfing my contemporaries.

Firstly, to prohibit any form of self-preservation that requires harming another, even if he is an aggressor, in the belief that one s life is less morally valuable than one s pure death. The criticism is that this rewards aggression, for "evil will always flourish when good men do nothing" Edmund Burketo which the pacifist may reply that the rewards for moral purity are not to be found in this life but in the after-life, a reply that is not attractive to those who do not believe in life after death.

The second solution is to divide humanity into those who may seek and attain moral purity and those who cannot or should not. The Nature of Violence The next philosophical problem that pacifism has to deal with is what is meant by violence.

The adjective violent applies to many situations that the nominal pacifist would not necessarily oppose, from its uses to describe agitated or passionate behavior to morally legitimately violent actions against the self or another person.

For example, the martial and pugnacious sports involve a violence that the pacifist could accept, although many would decry such institutions as being part of the culture of violence that pervades aggressive nations and hence are deemed potential causal factors in war and which ought to be banned or severely limited.

Yet the violence meted out on, say a person s body in surgery is not something that most pacifists would accept deserving abolition. Similarly, those who claim that reason is man s most important faculty, and that it can and should rule the body and its conflicting emotions, assert that violent behavior or action against another is inimical to the life of a rational being and should be avoided absolutely.Just war theory (Latin: jus bellum justum) Pacifism – Pacifism is the belief that war of any kind is morally unacceptable and/or pragmatically not worth the cost.

Pacifists extend humanitarian concern not just to enemy civilians but also to combatants, especially conscripts.

The pacifist tradition

Just War Thought: A Pacifist Analysis; Pacifism with Justice: The Biblical and Theological Case Just War Thought: A Pacifist Analysis. Ted Grimsrud the so-called “just war theory” has been the more-or-less official Christian doctrine regarding involvement in warfare.

Larry May, Contingent Pacifism: Revisiting Just War Theory, Cambridge University Press, , pp., $ (hbk), ISBN Reviewed by Jan Narveson, University of Waterloo In this new book, Larry May develops and defends what he claims is a .

In order to discover how best to respond to evil, let us look at the foundational motivation of both Just War Theory and Pacifism. Proponents of Just War theory believe that we must stand up for what is . Pacifism is as much an element of Western thinking as is the notion of Just War Theory, the argument that the state may legitimately or morally bear arms.

While most people accept the necessity of war, conscientious objectors (or martyrs in much of European history) have often been accorded a special recognition for their moral bravery in. Christian Pacifism and Just War Theory and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle.

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Pacifism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy