Practical Pacifism

Practical Pacifism

Practical Pacifism

Practical Pacifism

Synopsis

The United States has a unique responsibility and opportunity to use democracy to end war; but, after 9/11, many can no longer imagine pacifism in any form. Practical Pacifism argues for an approach to peace that aims toward a moral consensus that is developed pragmatically through dialogue aimed at overlapping consensus. Andrew Fiala is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He has written many articles for Philosophy in the Contemporary World, Metaphilosophy, Res Publica, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and The Humanist.

Excerpt

Practical pacifism is not absolute pacifism; it does not reject violence in all cases. Rather, it develops out of the idea that sometimes war may be justified, even as it questions whether any given war is in fact a just one.

This book attempts to articulate a certain uneasiness about the justification of war. Most of us do not know whether the wars that are fought in our names are justifiable. Most of us do not have access to intelligence information and classified documents that might help us understand the wars we fight. Moreover, history shows us that governments and the media present us with biased, incomplete, or false information about the wars we fight, the causes of these wars, and the way they are fought. War is so horrible that we should resist engaging in it until we are certain that it is necessary and justifiable; but in most cases, we simply cannot make that determination. Therefore, the thesis of practical pacifism is that we should be reluctant to consent to war, in most cases.

I came to this argument as I reflected on the events of the last several years —the attacks of September 11, the us declaration of war on terrorism, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. the more I thought about these events, the more I realized that I lacked the sorts of information I would need to make good judgments about them. the skeptical standpoint of practical pacifism can be derived from the history of warfare as well as from current events. Citizens have often been manipulated into supporting wars that were neither necessary nor just. This Socratic insight into our pervasive ignorance . . .

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