Does It Make Moral Sense?

Authored by: Jan Narveson

The Routledge Handbook of Pacifism and Nonviolence

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138194663
eBook ISBN: 9781315638751
Adobe ISBN:


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A huge amount has been written on this topic—a fact that should testify to its importance, since many of the writers are serious philosophers. In this essay, I will consider just what pacifism is, starting with ambiguities in the term. But there is a sort of “ur-thesis,” what I call “General Pacifism”: that we are not to use violence, no matter what, or at least with much heavier restrictions than most people think justified. I will then suggest that, for one thing, this ur-version doesn’t really make sense, and second, narrower applications of it, especially to the context of international wars, really inherit the problems of the “ur-thesis.” We are left with a kind of strong prima facie objection to using violence with which, surely, all reasonable people agree.

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