List journal issues    
Home List journal issues Table of contents Subscribe to PAQ


Volume 25 • Number 1

January 2011



Pacifism without Right and Wrong

by Daniel Diederich Farmer

Moral philosophers generally regard pacifism with disdain. Forty years ago, Jan Narveson called it a "bizarre and vaguely ludicrous" doctrine, and that assessment is, in some form or other, still common today. Few contemporary ethicists self-identify as pacifists, and in peace and war studies, just war theory is now the standard. That standard perpetuates the stereotype of pacifism as naïve and wrongheaded. The only way to make nonviolent commitments respectable under the prevailing view is by subsuming them under just war logic, as in John Lango's recent appeal for nonviolent interventionism. In brief, just war theory dominates the discourse. What makes this dominance problematic is that just war theory systematically misconstrues and caricatures the pacifist position. Pacifist commitments can only be properly understood when the lenses of just war theory are put aside. Only then is it possible to understand why pacifism appears ridiculous in the literature. Straw men usually do.

view PDF



Home | Issue Index
© 2011 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Content in Public Affairs Quarterly is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the Public Affairs Quarterly database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Public Affairs Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-0542