The previous three chapters have dealt with the just-war tradition, explicating those conditions that must be satisfied if the presumption against war is to be overridden. In this essay Professor Hauerwas argues that a commitment to pacifism as a life style eliminates the need to decide if war is ever justified. The committed pacifist never has to face "the question of whether to use or not use violence as a means of securing some good." Hauerwas maintains that pacifism is not properly viewed as either a consequentialist or deontological position but is closest to being an "ethics of virtue." Pacifists, on this view, are those who are learning to live nonviolently and on this issue they are absolutists. They are not of necessity anarchists, however, since Hauerwas maintains that we need not view the state as essentially violent.
A pacifist speaking to philosophers faces a temptation that is almost impossible to resist—namely to try to defend pacifism philosophically. Yet I think such a temptation must be resisted, for to try to provide a philosophical foundation for pacifism would be a philosophical mistake. It is the same kind of mistake that those make who try to show that God must have created the universe if he is to be God— i.e. to make a metaphysical necessity out of what must remain contingent relation. I do not wish to be misunderstood, however, as such a claim might be interpreted to suggest that pacifism is a position
Reprinted with permission from Faith and Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2 ( April 1985), pp. 99-104.