About this topic
Summary

The term ‘pacifism’ is used to describe a range of positions and historical movements, broadly characterised by a general rejection of violence. Positions range from an absolute and principled rejection of violence (such that violence can never be justified), to contingent pacifisms that accept that violence may in principle be justified, but the necessary conditions for its justification cannot be met given existing practices. Furthermore, pacifism can be understood as a personal ethic (including conscientious objection), a critique of predominant political institutions (anti-warism), or as an alternative political theory (with connections to anarchism and feminism). While there is some recent work that attempts to characterise pacifism in terms of the Just War tradition (JWT), pacifism is generally considered an alternative tradition, broadly critical of JWT’s central premises.

Introductions

The Stanford Encyclopedia entry Fiala 2008 is a good introduction to the topic, as is Peter Brock’s historical survey [Brock 1998 Varieties of Pacifism].

Related categories

285 found
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1 — 50 / 285
  1. Defense with Dignity: How the Dignity of Violent Resistance Informs the Gun Rights Debate.Dan Demetriou - manuscript
    Perhaps the biggest disconnect between philosophers and non-philosophers on the question of gun rights is over the relevance of arms to our dignitary interests. This essay attempts to address this gap by arguing that we have a strong prima facie moral right to resist with dignity and that violence is sometimes our most or only dignified method of resistance. Thus, we have a strong prima facie right to guns when they are necessary often enough for effective dignified resistance. This approach (...)
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  2. The Pacifism of Bertrand Russell During the Great War.Claudio Giulio Anta - 2022 - History of European Ideas 48 (4):438-453.
    ABSTRACT Through a brief analysis of the reflections of some prestigious contemporary philosophers such as Norberto Bobbio, Mulford Quickert Sibley, Wilhelm Emil Mühlmann, Michael Allen Fox, David Cortright, Larry May, John Rawls, Eric Reitan, Johan Galtung and David Boersema, this essay reconstructs Russell's pacifist commitment during the First World War. This dramatic event represented a real watershed for his multifaceted and ingenious personality, leading to his new political and civil commitment. Through a series of articles and lectures, he fought against (...)
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  3. Vengeance in Reverse: The Tangled Loops of Violence, Myth, and Madness. By Mark R. Anspach. Pp. Xii, 121, East Lansing, Michigan State University Press, 2017, $23.90. [REVIEW]Patrick Madigan - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (1):201-202.
  4. The Politics of Military Force: Antimilitarism, Ideational Change, and Post-Cold War German Security Discourse.Frank Stengel - 2020 - Ann Arbor, MI, USA: University of Michigan Press.
    The Politics of Military Force uses discourse theory to examine the dynamics of discursive change that made participation in military operations possible against the background of German antimilitarist culture. Once considered a strict taboo, so-called out-of-area operations have now become widely considered by German policymakers to be without alternative. The book argues that an understanding of how certain policies are made possible (in this case, military operations abroad and force transformation), one needs to focus on processes of discursive change that (...)
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  5. Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Pacifism, Just War, and Peacebuilding. By Lisa Sowle Cahill. Pp. Xiv, 380. Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2019, $23.09. [REVIEW]Zenon Szablowinski - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (2):373-374.
  6. Pacifism as Re-Appropriated Violence.Amanda Cawston - 2019 - In Jorg Kustermans, Tom Sauer, Dominiek Lootens & Barbara Segaert (eds.), Pacifism's Appeal: Ethos, History, Politics. Cham: pp. 41-60.
    In this chapter, I introduce a novel conception of pacifism. This conception arises out of considering two key insights drawn from Cheyney Ryan’s work, specifically his characterization of the ‘pacifist impulse’ as a felt rejection of killing and his analysis of contemporary Western attitudes to war and methods of fighting, as reflecting a condition of alienated war. I expand on these claims and argue that considering them together reveals an important problem for pacifism. Specifically, the alienated condition of contemporary violence (...)
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  7. Nonviolence and Tolstoy’s Hard Question.Charles K. Fink - 2019 - The Acorn 17 (2):101-117.
    Pacifists are often put on the defensive with cases—real or imagined—in which innocent people are threatened by violent criminals. Is it always wrong to respond to violence with violence, even in defense of the innocent? This is the “hard” question addressed in this article. I argue that it is at least permissible to maintain one’s commitment to nonviolence in such cases. This may not seem like a bold conclusion, yet pacifists are often ridiculed—sometimes as cowards, sometimes as selfish moral purists—for (...)
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  8. Acting Out the Kingdom of God. [REVIEW]Charles K. Fink - 2019 - The Acorn 19 (1):48-53.
    Review of Tolstoy and Spirituality (Academic Studies Press, 2018), edited by Pedrag Cicovacki and Heidi Nada Grek, with articles by Miran Bozovic, Predrag Cicovacki, Abdusalam A. Guseynov, Robert Holmes, Božidar Kante, Rosamund Bartlett, Diana Dukhanova, Liza Knapp, Inessa Medzhibovskaya, Donna Tussing Orwin, Mikhail Shishkin, and Alexandra Smith.
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  9. Pacifism, Politics, and Feminism: Intersections and Innovations.Jennifer Kling (ed.) - 2019 - The Netherlands: Brill | Rodopi.
    This anthology explores the many and varied connections between pacifism, politics, and feminism. Each topic is often thought about in academic isolation; however, when we consider how they intersect and interact, it opens up new areas for discussion and analysis.
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  10. Pacifism and Targeted Killing as Force Short of War.Nicholas Parkin - 2019 - In Jai Galliott (ed.), Force Short of War in Modern Conflict.
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  11. The Political Production of Ethical War: Rethinking the Ethics/Politics Nexus with Laclau.Frank A. Stengel - 2019 - Critical Studies on Security 7 (3):230-242.
    Taking Maja Zehfuss’s War & the Politics of Ethics as a starting point, this paper thinks through the ethics/politics nexus from the perspective of ‘Essex School’ poststructuralist discourse theory. Specifically, it asks how ethics – or, rather, morality, the temporary, contingent and context-dependent normative framework that regulates what is commonly seen as good or bad within a given society – is produced. From a discourse theoretical perspective, notions of the moral good are the result of political struggles over meaning. Here (...)
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  12. Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Pacifism, Just War, and Peacebuilding. [REVIEW]Brian Stiltner - 2019 - Journal of Catholic Social Thought 17 (1):171-173.
  13. Catholicity Without Leviathan: Stanley Hauerwas's Perspective on the Church as an Alternative Political Community.Ionut Untea - 2019 - The Politics and Religion Journal 12 (1):1-31.
    The article brings into focus a series of political arguments of Stanley Hauerwas's “theological politics” and argues that these arguments are in stark contrast with the theoretical perspective of a political rule by a god-like Leviathan, an image inherited in modern and contemporary political culture from the early modern English philosopher Thomas Hobbes. The first section focuses on Hauerwas's arguments regarding the political potential of the term “Catholicity” to represent an alternative to the coercive politics reinforced by the post-Enlightenment nation (...)
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  14. Remembering Mulford Q. Sibley.Duane L. Cady - 2018 - The Acorn 18 (1):77-79.
    Sibley was a prolific writer and speaker on pacifism, civil disobedience, and utopianism. His many publications include articles and books on these topics. My favorite is his highly respected The Quiet Battle: Writings on the Theory and Practice of Nonviolent Resistance, an anthology of major-–as well as less well-known—sources on pacifism and nonviolence, meticulously edited, with rich and insightful introductions and concluding reflections by Sibley. There are many tales to be told of Sibley’s adventures as a pacifist in the academy (...)
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  15. The Routledge Handbook of Pacifism and Nonviolence.Andrew Fiala (ed.) - 2018 - Routledge.
    Interest in pacifism—an idea with a long history in philosophical thought and in several religious traditions—is growing. The Routledge Handbook of Pacifism and Nonviolence is the first comprehensive reference designed to introduce newcomers and researchers to the many varieties of pacifism and nonviolence, to their history and philosophy, and to pacifism’s most serious critiques. The volume offers 32 brand new chapters from the world’s leading experts across a diverse range of fields, who together provide a broad discussion of pacifism and (...)
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  16. The Pacifist Tradition and Pacifism as Transformative and Critical Theory.Andrew Fiala - 2018 - The Acorn 18 (1):5-28.
    Pacifism is often painted into a corner as an absolute rejection of all violence and war. Such a dogmatic and negative formulation of pacifism does leave us with pacifism as a morally problematic position. But pacifism is not best understood as a negative claim. Nor is pacifism best understood as a singular or monistic concept. Rather, there is a “pacifist tradition” that is grounded in an affirmative claim about the importance of nonviolence, love, community building, and peaceful conflict resolution. This (...)
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  17. Humanitarian Intervention and the Problem of Genocide and Atrocity.Jennifer Kling - 2018 - In Andrew Fiala (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Pacifism and Nonviolence. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 327-346.
    We tend to think that mass atrocities and attempted genocides call for humanitarian intervention by other states. (Nonviolent intervention if possible, military intervention if need be.) In this chapter, I discuss these two related claims in turn. What, if anything, justifies humanitarian intervention in certain states by other states? Ought such interventions, if justified, be pacifist in nature, or is it legitimate in some cases to intervene violently? To discuss these questions, I draw primarily on principles and arguments found in (...)
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  18. Myth and Reality: Pacifism’s Discourse on Violence Revisited.Friedrich Lohmann - 2018 - Studies in Christian Ethics 31 (2):186-200.
    Pacifism is an active form of resistance, and therefore not to be criticised as a passive withdrawal from the world. The defining characteristic of pacifism, in both the institutional and the witness approach, is its categorical commitment to nonviolence. Therefore, pacifism’s discourse on violence deserves special attention. This article identifies incoherencies and developments in pacifism’s discourse on violence, which are due to the almost unbearable burden of thinking and acting categorically in a nonviolent manner. It furthermore identifies two presuppositions in (...)
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  19. Gewalt – Versuch einer Begriffsklärung.Daniel Meßelken - 2018 - In Sarah Jäger & Ines-Jacqueline Werkner (eds.), Gewalt in der Bibel Und in Kirchlichen Traditionen: Fragen Zur Gewalt • Band 1. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. pp. 13-34.
    Das Spektrum dessen, was als Gewalt bezeichnet wird, ist groß. Es reicht von paradigmatischen Fällen wie kriegerischen Konflikten und Terrorismus über Mord durch Erschlagen und Körperverletzungen bis hin zu umstritteneren Beispielen wie struktureller, sozialer, psychologischer oder verbaler Gewalt. Gewalt muss daher als eine anthropologische Konstante bezeichnet werden: Die Fähigkeit, andere zu verletzen, und die Eigenschaft, von anderen verletzt zu werden, sind Teile der menschlichen Natur. Gewalt ist auch als „Universalsprache“ bezeichnet worden.
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  20. Pacifism and Nonviolence as Philosophical Mandate.Greg Moses - 2018 - The Acorn 18 (1):1-4.
    Long about 2014 or 2015 Andrew Fiala was negotiating the title of a handbook project. Meanwhile, in March of 2016, editors of The Acorn were deliberating a revised subtitle for the journal. Both projects landed on the same key terms: pacifism and nonviolence. A zeitgeist was afoot. In this volume, we present Fiala’s framing of philosophical pacifism. Exemplary virtues still by and large belong to the warrior (nor are we here to dismiss the warrior’s honor as such.) Yet, as Steven (...)
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  21. Book Review: Leo Strauss: Man of Peace, by Robert Howse. [REVIEW]Seyla Benhabib - 2017 - Political Theory 45 (2):273-277.
  22. Editor's Introduction.Greg Moses - 2017 - The Acorn 17 (1):1-3.
    Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Mahatma Gandhi, Alain Locke, Howard Thurman, and Dr. Huey Newton comprise central figures of concern in three feature articles of this issue. The fourth feature takes us on a climate march through Washington, D.C. where the central figure of concern is a broken global relationship. In addition, we offer book reviews that take up applications of nonviolence to counter-terrorism, of ethics to immigration, of pacifism to war, and cosmopolitanism to peacebuilding.
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  23. Burdens of Warism.Rick Werner - 2017 - The Acorn 17 (1):82-87.
    Robert Holmes’ Pacifism is the most complete, most detailed in argument, and most compelling book on pacifism I have read. It is not an easy book, for “all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.” It deserves a careful read, many reads, by anyone who cares about war and the war system we are. It is a fitting testimony to Holmes’ excellence as a philosopher in the truest sense of that word--so uncommon in the halls of the academy, (...)
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  24. How We Fight: Ethics in War. [REVIEW]Amanda Cawston - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (264):638-641.
  25. Transformative Pacifism in Theory and Practice: Gandhi, Buber, and the Dream of a Great and Lasting Peace.Andrew Fiala - 2016 - Dialogue and Universalism 26 (4):133-148.
    Pacifists imagine a “great peace,” to borrow a phrase from Martin Buber. This great peace will uphold justice and respect for humanity. It will not efface difference or negate liberty and identity. The great peace will be a space in which genuine dialogue can flourish—in which we can encounter one another as persons, listen to one another, embrace our common humanity, and acknowledge our differences. The great peace is much more than the absence of war. It is holistic, organic, dialogical, (...)
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  26. Anarchist Ambivalence: Politics and Violence in the Thought of Bakunin, Tolstoy and Kropotkin.Elizabeth Frazer & Kimberly Hutchings - 2016 - European Journal of Political Theory 18 (2):147488511663408.
    There appear to be striking contradictions between different strands of anarchist thought with respect to violence – anarchism can justify it, or condemn it, can be associated with both violent action and pacifism. The anarchist thinkers studied here saw themselves as facing up to the realities of violence in politics – the violence of state power, and the destructiveness of instrumental uses of physical power as a revolutionary political weapon. Bakunin, Tolstoy and Kropotkin all express ambivalence about violence in relation (...)
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  27. Pacifism: A Philosophy of Nonviolence.Robert L. Holmes - 2016 - Bloomsbury.
    In a world riven with conflict, violence and war, this book proposes a philosophical defense of pacifism. It argues that there is a moral presumption against war and unless that presumption is defeated, war is unjustified. Leading philosopher of non-violence Robert Holmes contends that neither just war theory nor the rationales for recent wars defeat that presumption, hence that war in the modern world is morally unjustified. A detailed, comprehensive and elegantly argued text which guides both students and scholars through (...)
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  28. A Machiavellian Approach to Pacifism. [REVIEW]Court Lewis - 2016 - The Acorn 16 (1-2):59-61.
    Sara Trovato’s Mainstreaming Pacifism: Conflict, Success, and Ethics provides a thorough and engaging argument for why pacifism is an effectual means for creating social-political justice and peace. Standing up to claims that pacifists are politically passive and accepting of injustice, Trovato shows that the peace of pacifism is compatible with the fight for justice. By showing that pacifists can consistently retain their ideals while fighting for justice, Trovato offers an alternative to effective means of violence. In her words, “violence can (...)
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  29. Uzasadnienie Sprzeciwu Sumienia: Lekarze, Poborowi I Żołnierze.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2016 - Diametros 47:98-128.
    I will argue that physicians have an ethical obligation to justify their conscientious objection and the most reliable interpretation of the Polish legal framework claims that conscientious objection is permissible only when the justification shows the genuineness of the judgment of conscience that is not based on false beliefs and arises from a moral norm that has a high rank. I will demonstrate that the dogma accepted in the Polish doctrine that the reasons that lie behind conscientious objection in medicine (...)
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  30. Liability, War, and Peace.Andrew Alexandra - 2015 - Philosophical Forum 46 (1):41-53.
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  31. On Jan Narveson’s “Pacifism: A Philosophical Analysis”.Cécile Fabre - 2015 - Ethics 125 (3):823-825,.
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  32. The Metaethics of Pacifism and Just War Theory.Robert L. Holmes - 2015 - Philosophical Forum 46 (1):3-15.
  33. Philosophy of Nonviolence: Revolution, Constitutionalism, and Justice Beyond the Middle East.Chibli Mallat - 2015 - Oxford University Press USA.
    In 2011, the Middle East saw more people peacefully protesting long entrenched dictatorships than at any time in its history. The dictators of Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen were deposed in a matter of weeks by nonviolent marches. Imprecisely described as 'the Arab Spring', the revolution has been convulsing the whole region ever since. Beyond an uneven course in different countries, Philosophy of Nonviolence examines how 2011 may have ushered in a fundamental break in world history. The break, the book argues, (...)
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  34. Contingent Pacifism: Revisiting Just War Theory.Larry May - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this, the first major philosophical study of contingent pacifism, Larry May offers a new account of pacifism from within the Just War tradition. Written in a non-technical style, the book features real-life examples from contemporary wars and applies a variety of approaches ranging from traditional pacifism and human rights to international law and conscientious objection. May considers a variety of thinkers and theories, including Hugo Grotius, Kant, Socrates, Seneca on restraint, Tertullian on moral purity, Erasmus's arguments against just war, (...)
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  35. Pacifism and Moral Judgment.Kirsten Meyer - 2015 - In Ralf Stoecker & Marco Iorio (eds.), Actions, Reasons and Reason. De Gruyter. pp. 127-140.
    Do we endanger peace by placing ourselves morally above others? Rudiger Bittner's pacifism is based on a general advocacy of peacefulness - and a warning against the corrupting influence of morality. It seems, however, that pacifists themselves need to make moral judgments. In the following, I will show that Bittner's critique of morality is well suited to guide the pacifist in deciding whether, when and how to deliver moral judgments.
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  36. Pacifism(S).Cheyney Ryan - 2015 - Philosophical Forum 46 (1):17-39.
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  37. Mainstreaming Pacifism: Conflict, Success, and Ethics.Sara Trovato - 2015 - Lexington Books.
    Mainstreaming Pacifism: Conflict, Success, and Ethics covers the history of philosophy concerning successful political means, and proposes an original interpretation of Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Marx and Gandhi. The book counters the objection that pacifism is ineffective, and proposes that pacifism is not for a sect, but rather draws its most effective strategies from, and contributes them to, the mainstream political tradition.
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  38. Klauzula sumienia: lekarze jak poborowi.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2015 - Filozofia W Praktyce 1 (1).
    „Skoro powszechnie przyjmuje się, że sumienie jest suwerenne, to nie wiadomo, po co lekarz miałby uzasadniać pisemnie swój światopogląd” – napisała Naczelna Izba Lekarska w skardze do Trybunału Konstytucyjnego. Trybunał tę część skargi oddalił w wyroku z 7 października 2015 r., ale stwierdził, że „Celem prowadzenia dokumentacji medycznej nie jest (…) utrwalanie na piśmie poglądów filozoficzno-prawnych lekarza”. Uznał też, że uzasadnienie „powinno mieć charakter medyczny, a nie służyć wyjaśnieniu światopoglądu lekarza, czy też wskazaniu zasady moralnej leżącej u podstaw jego zachowania”. (...)
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  39. Gandhian Nonviolence and the Problem of Preferable Violence.Jacob N. Bauer - 2014 - The Acorn 15 (1):26-32.
    In this article, I argue that Gandhi can prefer violence in cases, but still morally object to all forms of violence. Even though this can seem to be a contradiction, nonetheless, one can prefer an action without thinking that action is morally justified. Next, I explore the objection that preferring a violent act, such as violent self-defense, over a act that is not violent, such as running away, seems to prefer an action that is more violent to one that is (...)
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  40. Varieties of Contingent Pacifism in War.Saba Bazargan-Forward - 2014 - In Helen Frowe & Gerald Lang (eds.), How We Fight. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-17.
    The destruction wrought by even just wars lends undeniable appeal to radical pacifism, according to which all wars are unjust. Yet radical pacifism is fundamentally flawed. In the past decade, a moderate and more defensible form of pacifism has emerged. According to what has been called ‘contingent pacifism’, it is very unlikely that it is morally permissible to wage any given war. This chapter develops the doctrine of contingent pacifism by distinguishing and developing various versions of it, and by assessing (...)
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  41. Gandhi on Non-Violence.Bhuvan Chandel - 2014 - Diogenes 61 (3-4):135-142.
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  42. Jesus Christ, Peacemaker: A New Theology of Peace by Terrence J. Rynne. [REVIEW]Daniel Cosacchi - 2014 - Journal for Peace and Justice Studies 24 (1):134-137.
  43. Contingent Pacifism and Contingently Pacifist Conclusions.Andrew Fiala - 2014 - Journal of Social Philosophy 45 (4):463-477.
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  44. The Feminist Pacifism of William James and Mary Whiton Calkins.Mathew A. Foust - 2014 - Hypatia 29 (4):889-905.
    In this paper, I accompany William James and Mary Whiton Calkins in the steps each takes toward his or her respective proposal of a moral equivalent of war. I demonstrate the influence of James upon Calkins, suggesting that the two share overlapping formulations of the problem and offer closely related—but significantly different—solutions. I suggest that Calkins's pacifistic proposal is an extension of that of her teacher—a feminist interpretation of his psychological and moral thought as brought to bear on the problem (...)
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  45. Revisiting Ruddick: Feminism, Pacifism and Non-Violence.Elizabeth Frazer & Kimberly Hutchings - 2014 - Journal of International Political Theory 10 (1):109-124.
    This article explores feminist contentions over pacifism and non-violence in the context of the Greenham Common Peace Camp in the 1980s and later developments of feminist Just War Theory. We argue that Sara Ruddick’s work puts feminist pacifism, its radical feminist critics and feminist just war theory equally into question. Although Ruddick does not resolve the contestations within feminism over peace, violence and the questions of war, she offers a productive way of holding the tension between them. In our judgment, (...)
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  46. How We Fight: Ethics in War.Helen Frowe & Gerald Lang (eds.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    How We Fight: Ethics in War contains ten groundbreaking essays by some of the leading philosophers of war. The essays offer new perspectives on key debates including pacifism, punitive justifications for war, the distribution of risk between combatants and non-combatants, the structure of 'just war theory', and bases of individual liability in war.
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  47. Collateral Damage and the Principle of Due Care.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2014 - Journal of Military Ethics 13 (1):94-105.
    This article focuses on the ethical implications of so-called ‘collateral damage’. It develops a moral typology of collateral harm to innocents, which occurs as a side effect of military or quasi-military action. Distinguishing between accidental and incidental collateral damage, it introduces four categories of such damage: negligent, oblivious, knowing and reckless collateral damage. Objecting mainstream versions of the doctrine of double effect, the article argues that in order for any collateral damage to be morally permissible, violent agents must comply with (...)
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  48. Moral Autonomy in Australian Legislation and Military Doctrine.Richard Adams - 2013 - Ethics and Global Politics 6 (3):135-154.
    "Australian legislation and military doctrine stipulate that soldiers ‘subjugate their will’ to" "government, and fight in any war the government declares. Neither legislation nor doctrine enables the conscience of soldiers. Together, provisions of legislation and doctrine seem to take soldiers for granted. And, rather than strengthening the military instrument, the convention of legislation and doctrine seems to weaken the democratic foundations upon which the military may be shaped as a force for justice. Denied liberty of their conscience, soldiers are denied (...)
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  49. Pacifism and Moral Integrity.Jovan Babić - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (4):1007-1016.
    The paper has three parts. The first is a discussion of the values as goals and means. This is a known Moorean distinction between intrinsic and instrumental values, with one other Moorean item - the doctrine of value wholes. According to this doctrine the value wholes are not simply a summation of their parts, which implies a possibility that two evils might be better than one (e. g. crime + punishment, two evils, are better than either one of them taken (...)
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  50. Introduction.Jovan Babić & Petar Bojanić - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (4):923-924.
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