Is pacifism ethical?

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Quixotess
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Quixotess » Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:54 am UTC

Kachi wrote:But that all seems to assume that the person values someone who is fully human to begin with. A substantial percentage of incarcerated criminals have some form of sociopathy, which is essentially defined by them not seeing value in people other than to be used for their own desires. Furthermore, no effective treatments have been found-- the operating theory is that it would be possible to pinpoint many criminals in youth based on the development of their brain.

Au contraire. Sociopathy, or Antisocial Personality Disorder, is classified in the DSM-IV, which is a publication for psychiatry, and therefore only lists symptoms that can be quantified; for example, lying, a disregard for societal rules and laws, recklessness, impulsiveness. It is easy to quantify a disregard for rules and laws--people break them. Generally, people who end up in jail have broken laws of some kind. Naturally many of them would be sociopaths.

Psychopathy, meanwhile, is not classified as a psychiatric disorder. It is a psychological disorder and can have whatever symptoms it damn well wants. These include the "not seeing others as human" as well as lack of empathy or remorse. This is a rarer breed, and while they are still overrepresented in prisons (as well as politics, law, and the media) it is certainly not near the rate of sociopaths.

Sociopathy is extremely difficult to treat, as you say (they are the kinds of people who will not seek treatment unless forced, and it often occurs concurrently with substance abuse, which makes prescribing drugs problematic); however, the symptoms usually ease with time. They tend to peak in the person's 30's and go down from there.

This is relevant because you seem to be advocating violence against sociopaths because "they are less human," but the truth is sociopaths may have respect and empathy for other people--just not for society at large. Meanwhile, psychopaths are a) much less common and b) may indeed need to be confined, but violence does not follow from that.

I was mainly just excited at finding a use for something I researched in Social Psych, though.
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Kachi » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:32 am UTC

Hah, well I appreciate your input, as the criteria are rather ill-defined. However, I understand that there are other criteria besides those outlined in DSM-IV which do include not seeing others as humans. I'm aware that it is more pronounced in psychopathy, but as the two are a bit difficult to seperate, I went with the more inclusive terminology.

Hadn't heard that the symptoms ease with time though; that's good to know (though waiting until your attacker turns 40 is probably not a viable solution to a confrontation) :P

As for advocating violence, yes, but not always as the first and only means of intervention. If for example you were in a situation where your options were violence or appealing to empathy, I was making the case that you'd be wasting your time trying to appeal to a socio/psychopath's sense of humanity. I also consider the process of incarceration (confinement/restraint) to be violent, because it usually is.

So my point was that there are times when nonviolence is simply not appropriate, period.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jjarro » Sat Apr 26, 2008 7:25 am UTC

Kachi wrote:So my point was that there are times when nonviolence is simply not appropriate, period.


... so long as we're measuring "appropriateness" for your system of values, which prefers your life and safety over that of an assailant, who you are (perhaps fairly) willing to assume has a mental defect.

If we are measuring nonviolence's appropriateness for someone with a different set of values, then even situations which result in greater violence and death overall in the absence of violent resistance can be situations where non-violence is appropriate. And there's nothing unethical about this. If one holds non-violence to be a virtue and upholds it throughout their philosophical system, they should be able to go to their deaths content that they have acted rightly.

Now, I have a different system, perhaps more like yours. If I were in one of the situations you describe, it would be an immoral act to go quietly into the night; this is because I don't hold non-violence to be a virtue. I consider my survival important to my happiness, consider violent aggression to be a violation of my rights, and believe that violations of my rights can be responded to with force and sometimes violence. Ultimately, I consider killing a violent attacker when necessary to preserve innocent life the expression of a virtue, and can thus send another man to his death happily, content that I have acted rightly.
All of this supposes scenarios where oneself is the only immediate victim. The only place where non-violence (as it exists as a virtue defined within a system of values) runs into difficult ethical territory is when there is another person threatened.

An interesting point, though, is that it is ultimately still their own ethics that our hypothetical pacifist must answer to. If I am with a pacifist and they fail to use violence to protect me, I can only go so far as to be indignant that they do not value me enough to defend me. I cannot, by my system of values, at least, demand their assistance with any moral weight. On the other hand, if someone is not a pacifist, then it is perfectly reasonable to condemn them for failing to act up to the expectations of their values.

Likewise, if I were – for some unimaginable reason – taking a late-night stroll with Quix through some hypothetical poorly lit but undoubtedly charming park and we were assailed by an attacker (or even several) that did not respond to threats, it would not be an ethical failing on my part to draw my gun and get to work killing. Quix values her own non-violence over her life. I don't value my non-violence over her life. Only by acting in contradiction with our respective values would we be doing wrong.

Some values, of course, are in and of themselves unethical. I just don't think pacifism/non-violence is one of them. If people don't want to be capable, mentally, of harming someone for any reason, I don't hold it against them. They're not hurting anyone. Ultimately, even if they "fail to save" someone by not committing violence, it is not their moral responsibility unless they were being relied on to protect that person from violence with violence. It is the responsibility of the attacker.

To sum up, pacifism is perfectly appropriate for honestly pacifist people, even in situations you would say it's inappropriate for.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Kachi » Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:33 am UTC

I see your point, but it seems it treads too closely to a discussion of the ethics of apathy to belabor the argument. In other words, whether that holds true further depends on your value of whether or not a person has a responsibility to other people, and to what extent.

I'd contend that if you have enough of a sense of responsibility to the assaillant, then lacking such a sense of responsibility towards yourself and others is fallacious. I'm admittedly a very calculated individual, though.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jjarro » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:08 am UTC

But maybe your sense of responsibility to all others (assailant or otherwise) is accompanied by a feeling that it is an important personal virtue to do no harm, or, as Quix puts it, to have hands that never hurt. I have nothing to fear from her hands, according to her - and that's an important virtue, to her. She values her hands existence as purely positive, and that's powerful - even to me, who disagrees with her. I'd argue that I have nothing to fear from my good friend's hands either, even though we both carry guns and I've been known to get in complicated/delicate situations with his girlfriend. (That's a long story and is probably not what you think.)

Exactly the sort of situations you might expect to turn into gunfights have failed to do so between us, though he's been seething with intense emotion at times. This is because he's got a sound moral system and powerful rational control over his actions. Of course, he can't say that his hands never hurt, either - just that they never do evil. That's good enough for me. (That's not to say that I dropped my guard during those encounters - but I wouldn't with an avowed pacifist, either.)

Ultimately, though, you're right. If you hold that someone has an overwhelming responsibility to all other people to preserve as much life and prevent as much violence and death as possible, then stringent standards of non-violence can be unethical in certain situations (and, perhaps, become even more moral, or even essential, in others). I think that is a poor moral model for living on earth, though - it requires one to value others over one's personal highest values, whatever they may be, and that's counter-productive if your purpose is to live happily and well. (Other purposes are possible, though I advise against them; a thread on the ethicality of pacifism is not the place to discuss the purpose of life. I will thus preemptively concede that such a moral model would work if someone's goal were not happiness, or if the life of all others were required, somehow, for their happiness.)

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Kachi » Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:49 am UTC

I will thus preemptively concede that such a moral model would work if someone's goal were not happiness, or if the life of all others were required, somehow, for their happiness.


Add universal happiness to that list and we have an accord.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jjarro » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:55 am UTC

Right, if someone were to believe the purpose of their life were universal happiness (even at the expense of their own happiness), then an overwhelming responsibility to all other people to preserve as much life and prevent as much violence and death as possible would be a workable moral requirement. Pacifism would probably work in harmony with this the vast majority of the time, at least insofar as I believe anyone engaged in utilitarianism/altruism can have any moral system work.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby SabreKGB » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:14 am UTC

Jjarro wrote:
Kachi wrote:So my point was that there are times when nonviolence is simply not appropriate, period.


... so long as we're measuring "appropriateness" for your system of values, which prefers your life and safety over that of an assailant, who you are (perhaps fairly) willing to assume has a mental defect.

If we are measuring nonviolence's appropriateness for someone with a different set of values, then even situations which result in greater violence and death overall in the absence of violent resistance can be situations where non-violence is appropriate. And there's nothing unethical about this. If one holds non-violence to be a virtue and upholds it throughout their philosophical system, they should be able to go to their deaths content that they have acted rightly.

Now, I have a different system, perhaps more like yours. If I were in one of the situations you describe, it would be an immoral act to go quietly into the night; this is because I don't hold non-violence to be a virtue. I consider my survival important to my happiness, consider violent aggression to be a violation of my rights, and believe that violations of my rights can be responded to with force and sometimes violence. Ultimately, I consider killing a violent attacker when necessary to preserve innocent life the expression of a virtue, and can thus send another man to his death happily, content that I have acted rightly.
All of this supposes scenarios where oneself is the only immediate victim. The only place where non-violence (as it exists as a virtue defined within a system of values) runs into difficult ethical territory is when there is another person threatened.

An interesting point, though, is that it is ultimately still their own ethics that our hypothetical pacifist must answer to. If I am with a pacifist and they fail to use violence to protect me, I can only go so far as to be indignant that they do not value me enough to defend me. I cannot, by my system of values, at least, demand their assistance with any moral weight. On the other hand, if someone is not a pacifist, then it is perfectly reasonable to condemn them for failing to act up to the expectations of their values.

Likewise, if I were – for some unimaginable reason – taking a late-night stroll with Quix through some hypothetical poorly lit but undoubtedly charming park and we were assailed by an attacker (or even several) that did not respond to threats, it would not be an ethical failing on my part to draw my gun and get to work killing. Quix values her own non-violence over her life. I don't value my non-violence over her life. Only by acting in contradiction with our respective values would we be doing wrong.

Some values, of course, are in and of themselves unethical. I just don't think pacifism/non-violence is one of them. If people don't want to be capable, mentally, of harming someone for any reason, I don't hold it against them. They're not hurting anyone. Ultimately, even if they "fail to save" someone by not committing violence, it is not their moral responsibility unless they were being relied on to protect that person from violence with violence. It is the responsibility of the attacker.

To sum up, pacifism is perfectly appropriate for honestly pacifist people, even in situations you would say it's inappropriate for.


I very much like this summation. It puts pacifism in a light that i hadn't looked at before and certainly makes it more...self consistent? seeming to me now. Horribly, grossly, all-that-is-required-for-evil-to-triumph-is-for-good-men-to-do-nothing-ly wrong...but you definitly helped give me an insight. Thanks :)

I'm curious though, you say that some values are unethical: how do you come to the conclusion of which one's are and which are not? How do you come to the conclusion that pacifism isn't?

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jjarro » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:20 am UTC

I consider values that, to be lived up to, require the violation of others or their rights wrong. I consider values that ultimately don't affirm life at all wrong - such as someone who would not act to stay alive in any situation, because they are indifferent to life. All of this proceeds from the decision to live - that first choice, necessarily made before all others, I believe to be morally neutral. If you decide not to live, you have no need for values. And, no need to live. Bye!

So, once you decide to live, you need to act consistently with that. Someone who is alive presumably wants to live well/be happy, and thus identifies and pursues the values and virtues they find conductive to living well or being happy. If someone has values that contradict that root desire - or, more accurately, the values that necessarily extend from the initial decision to live - then I consider those values incorrect. (Pacifism falls very lightly into this category, but it is so essentially benevolently motivated and unlikely to become problematic on a personal level that I don't condemn it.) Still, anything falling into this category is just a value I find inconsistent, and I could be wrong - I am always willing to examine these points of view. There is a second requirement: the value must lead to the violation of others. While I may not feel the right to impose my value-system on another, I do feel the right to hold them to my moral standard on certain simple boundaries - the non-initiation of force, doing as you say you will, and so on. If they fail to live up to these standards, I may comfortably use force in dealing with them.

I hope that clarifies it - though it's a complicated subject with complicated answers. The short version is that a value that doesn't recognize others' rights is morally wrong, while a value that doesn't line up with my philosophical understanding is just incorrect (but not absolutely so - value systems are complex, basic morals are simple.) People can have different opinions on these things without negative effect.

And I don't think that pacifists will stand aside and surrender the earth to evil, either. I think that pacifists tend to reach non-violence through a life-affirming value-system that is essentially benevolent and courageous, and are willing to take many steps besides violence to fight for good. I don't disagree that ultimately there have to be people willing to do violence in some situations, and that evil is sometimes only put to rest by bombs, bullets and blades. An entirely pacifist society would be at the mercy of the first organized, amoral offering of violence.

Edit: I had to move an apostrophe! It was in the wrong place.
Edit2: Actually, it shouldn't have been there at all. Damn.
Last edited by Jjarro on Sat May 03, 2008 9:00 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby SabreKGB » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:47 am UTC

Can we agree that there are some situations that can only reasonably be solved by force? Some instances where, in order to preserve one's rights or property or quality of life, one must fight? If so:

Would that not mean that pacifism is wrong acording to your criteria since it would have the end effect, no matter how good-intentioned, of reducing the quality of life of everyone else in the world by failing to oppose those who would take from us our rights or property (read: ability to "live well/be happy") with force? That either lets the unscrupulous win by default or reduces everyone else's standard of living by forcing them to take on more of the burden of opposition themselves. It would seem to me that this makes pacifisim something that is fundamentally wrong in the real world.

Further, i can't say that i agree that pacifism fits into the category of life affirming philosophies. Life, to be worth living, must have some minimum standards. But, when you decide that you will not commit violence to assert your rights and someone decides to take them away from you...what is to stop them from pushing you below those minimums? Certainly not the pacifist themself. Then, there is the argument that i made above that the pacifist, instead of raising the average quality of life by reducing violence, actually lowers it by refusing to defend themself and encouraging those who would prey upon them. It also seems backward to say that someone who would give up their life without a fight is espousing a life affirming philosophy.

I'll end on this:

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jjarro » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:19 am UTC

We can agree that some situations can only be reasonably resolved by force.

This does mean that pacifism is incorrect according to my criteria, yes. But since it does not infringe on anyone else, it is not actively wrong or harmful. The pacifist who does not resist the predator does not worsen everyone else's life - the predator does.

Pacifism might be life-affirming because it often values life and peace. It is not necessarily effective in preserving and affirming these things, but it is essentially benevolent and implicitly recognizes the rights and existence of others. Ultimately, I don't consider pacifism successfully life affirming, because it does not serve my value system.

Given the choice to live and the consequential desire to live "well," however one ends up defining that, one does have to have certain, as you put it, minimum standards. These are determined by ones values. Acting excellently in accordance with ones values is a virtue. If ones values are such that pacifism is a virtue, it is possible one would be dipping below those minimum standards in abandoning that virtue. It is possible to come to the conclusion that it is better to die than to kill, as killing is the ultimate wrong. I don't agree with this conclusion, but it doesn't hurt me. I debate it, but don't call it names like "immoral" or "unethical." It's not. "Life-affirming" does not relate to the average quality of life. That is something else. Something is life-affirming if it supports and encourages your life and the purpose of your life, as you have determined, starting from the decision to live.

The road to hell is paved also with the corpses of the dead men who stood against good and evil alike, but turned too early to violence. I am a willingly violent creature, but I don't see the harm in isolated pacifism. Some people are weapons, some are not. Societal, consistent pacifism? Yes, I see potential harm in that. I don't think it violates anyone's rights so long as the participants are willingly pacifist, but I think it endangers the whole society.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby SabreKGB » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:37 am UTC

Well, like i said above, i definily like the way you put it about pacifism being ok for a person so long as they define their valuse such as to make it so. It's not something i didn't know or anything like that, but something about the way you put it definitly helped things do a "click" in my head, so thanks for helping in that regard.

As for our overall disagreement, I think we're pretty close pragmatically, but i still feel that "unethical" and such do indeed fit with pacifism and just don't find your arguments to the contrary convincing.
We argee that it's wrong, i think, but disagree about the degree to which it is. Fairly correct? I can live with that, if it's the case.

This does mean that pacifism is incorrect according to my criteria, yes. But since it does not infringe on anyone else, it is not actively wrong or harmful. The pacifist who does not resist the predator does not worsen everyone else's life - the predator does.


See, i think it does infringe on others and is in fact harmful. True, the predator is the one actively causing harm (and as such bears the majority of the moral culpability), but it seems that there is/ought to be an ethical obligation to resist them and that the pacifist is skipping out on that moral obligation...leaving it to the rest of us, which causes us harm.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby ThomasS » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:38 pm UTC

I recently saw http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_9596223 and couldn't help but think back to this thread.

On one hand, I would not want to see something like this happen. On the other hand, this is one of those thankfully rare (but at the same time, not rare enough) cases in which I wish that somebody willing and able to defend a stranger had been there sooner. I like to think that if I had been there, and been there at the right time, I might have been able to make a difference.

Also, I saw claimed (on another forum) that in Norway, it is possible that the bystanders might have been charged under some sort of criminal negligence law for not doing more to stop the attacker.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Vigilius » Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:02 pm UTC

Satish Kumar is one of the world's most famous living pacifists. He was recently interviewed for the spectacular radio program from Wisconsin Public Radio called To the Best of Our Knowledge. In the same episode revisionist historian Mark Kurlansky considers whether WWII could have been avoided nonviolently.

If these men sound interesting to you, hear them on To the Best of Our Knowledge's episode "Give Peace a Chance."

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby TheStranger » Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:07 pm UTC

Vigilius wrote:Satish Kumar is one of the world's most famous living pacifists. He was recently interviewed for the spectacular radio program from Wisconsin Public Radio called To the Best of Our Knowledge. In the same episode revisionist historian Mark Kurlansky considers whether WWII could have been avoided nonviolently.


Sure, WWII could have been avoided without violence... If the WWI allies had not sought to 'punish' Germany then it is quite possible that the economic situation that led to the rise of Nazism would have been avoided. It may have even been preventable if England an France had taken a stronger stand against Nazi aggression during the preliminary stages of the war (though under this scenario Nazism would still have ruled Germany... and the Holocaust would still have taken place).

But then hindsight is 20/20... to use a well worn phrase.

Once the Weirmacht started marching across France there was no going back... Nazism would have continued to expand across the globe unless halted via military force.

All the hand holding and song sining doesn't amount to much against a foe that wants to kill / conquer EVERYONE.
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby SabreKGB » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:29 am UTC

And i still can't honestly see how one could say that pacifism would be ethical then. How there wouldn't be a moral duty to stop the nazis. *shrug* This was a good thread, i think.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:33 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:All the hand holding and song sining doesn't amount to much against a foe that wants to kill / conquer EVERYONE.
Yes/no. Nonviolent resistance against the Nazis worked well in Denmark- but it would be silly to suggest that the logical conclusion is that if everyone had said "ok, Nazis, come take over and then we'll hinder you in nonviolent ways" things would have turned out fine. Perhaps the Nazis, not being worn down by having to deal with combat, would have developed effective means of combating nonviolent resistors- and it's unclear that the Nazis would have pulled out of Denmark if they hadn't been crushed by the Allies.
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jjarro » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:54 am UTC

I heard about this story the other day, and it made me think of concealed carry, not this thread. Then I got a topic reply notification on this long-quiet thread and made the connection; there's not much else I could think of that could have woken this up.

If someone who initially arrived had shot the man as soon as it was clear he wouldn't stop, he would be a hero and no one would question that. I'm tired of debates about pacifism and gun control - if I had been there at the beginning, the kid would be alive and that crazy fucker would have been dead a lot sooner. People who want to close the door on that possibility for themselves (pacifists) aren't immoral, just incorrect. People who want to close that door on me (gun control advocates) are assisting evil, knowingly or not. That's that.

Pacifism is still ethical; the people who were there and unarmed were no more effective than a pacifist would have been. I'm not ready to call them unethical just because they didn't realize and act on the principle that it is each person's responsibility to maintain their own peace.

As for WWII, it has been noted that Gandhi suggested that if the Jews had committed mass suicide it would have been heroism; those that fought back he considered reprehensible. That's unethical; condemning others for their attempts to preserve life and justice is wrong. The Nazis deserved the destruction they were dealt, but I don't think that means that there was any moral obligation beyond the interests of the involved parties to destroy them.

I think this thread is still over, but I agree; it was a good one.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Calorus » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:42 pm UTC

SabreKGB wrote:My answer would be an emphatic "no" to this, but i'm curious as to the outlook of others here. I've seen quite a bit of idealistic anti-violence opinions associated with some very intelligent people, many even going so far as to extol pacifism. I see any philosophy that rules out just violence as being deeply ethically flawed, personally.

Simply: Some things are worth fighting for. And, contrary to Mahatma, worth killing for. Right?


In my opinion, the only thing worth killing for is the right not to be killed. The only real decider, in a perfect world, would be Democracy and popular movement. Not that we live there, or any where near there.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jonolith » Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:21 pm UTC

Hey all, good thread, although I'm suprised and shocked that one point hasn't really been focused on. It may have been brought up, but it seems it has been lost in the ether of the thread.

I would make the arguement that Absolute Anythingism is bad. It's generally assumed by pacifists that people who say "Violence is a neccessary tool" mean "Violence is what we will always do all the time." And, of course, the reverse is true as well, people who talk to pacifists generally think they are talking to someone who would allow a child to get eaten by a bear because violence is wrong. Both of these are incredibly dangerous presumptions to place upon the other side, as is actually living those presumptions.

Let's do ourselves a favor though and just get rid of the idea that Absolute Violence, or Absolute Pacifism are things that we should adhere to. The problems with both are obvious and impossible to overcome. What should be called for is a more stable understanding of when both are needed, because they are both tools, not beliefs, but tools. You can use pacifism when it is needed, and violence when it is needed and neither should be your default position. You need Violence sometimes, and you need Pacifism sometimes, and both should be honed and ready for when the time comes for those things to be used.

This, of course, leads to the problem of Judgement. Both sides of the arguement will assume that the other side will make a bad judgement call, and that both calls will lead to dead people. Both sides are correct. If you make a bad call and use violence when it is not needed, then people could die, and conversely if you do nothing people could also die. The pat answer is "Don't be wrong" but that answer ignores the fact that we are human beings, and that we will be wrong no matter what we do. That is part of being human.

To put it all on the table... You cannot live in a world of Absolute Pacifism. The earth itself refuses to allow it. Wild Animals, Natural Disasters, and simply the act of eating anything are all violent and require violence to fight against. If the first people had have been absolute pacifists they would have died. Conversely, you cannot live in a world of Absolute Violence. Again, humanity wouldn't survive it.

What is needed is a blending of Pacifism and Violence that is contained in intelligence and wisdom. An acknowledgement that both sides can both be correct and incorrect simultaniously, and that a man who will never pick up a weapon to defend his family is the same as a man who will always pick up a weapon to defend his family.

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby TheStranger » Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:45 am UTC

Jonolith wrote: What is needed is a blending of Pacifism and Violence that is contained in intelligence and wisdom. An acknowledgement that both sides can both be correct and incorrect simultaniously, and that a man who will never pick up a weapon to defend his family is the same as a man who will always pick up a weapon to defend his family.


I think you've defined nearly every person in the history of the world. Most people are not crazy violent, and most people are not die-hard pacifists...
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby VannA » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:56 am UTC

I'm afraid I have not the patience or the time to read through the thread properly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa - Absolute Pacifism. Of the kind I can admire, but not actually respect. Its valuation does not seem to consistent; This is not truly correct, it just values non-violence of an individual greater than that individual's life, or the sum of all the lives that may be saveable.

I'm afraid that, despite having read some replies indicating it, the defination of violence hashed out in the first few pages is not applicable, IMO.

Violence is the application of (any) force to ensure your will against anothers.

This covers psychological imposition of will, as well as physical. As it should. Frightening somebody into doing something is still violence.

In fact, in the end, the only tool anybody ever has is the application of force. Even the most peaceful debate, on any issue, where one side cannot convince the other, will eventually result in conflict. And in conflict, the entity that can apply the greater force, wins.

As a slightly facetious comment; Anybody who believes violence doesn't solve problems, simply isn't violent enough

The other major factor in violence, outside of idealogical clashes and personal attacks, is resource control. It is, in the end, the major one. I, personally, feel that if people were not willing to result to violence wrt to resources, we wouldn't exist as a species.
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Jonolith » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:37 pm UTC

TheStranger wrote:
Jonolith wrote: What is needed is a blending of Pacifism and Violence that is contained in intelligence and wisdom. An acknowledgement that both sides can both be correct and incorrect simultaniously, and that a man who will never pick up a weapon to defend his family is the same as a man who will always pick up a weapon to defend his family.


I think you've defined nearly every person in the history of the world. Most people are not crazy violent, and most people are not die-hard pacifists...


With the exception of the people who are crazy violent or die-hard pacifists...

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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Dargon Cophe » Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:52 pm UTC

Also nice to remember that some people deserve violence outside of a combative situation. Such as rapists and murderers.
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Ari » Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:48 pm UTC

Dargon Cophe wrote:Also nice to remember that some people deserve violence outside of a combative situation. Such as rapists and murderers.


I'd have to disagree. The only reason I could see myself ever seriously trying to use violence now is if I were afraid for someone's life. Those people deserve to realise the enormity of what they've done and have it haunt them for the rest of their, hopefully very long, lives. And hopefully they also spend said lives desperately trying to atone for what they did but never feeling good enough.

VannA wrote:I'm afraid I have not the patience or the time to read through the thread properly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa - Absolute Pacifism. Of the kind I can admire, but not actually respect. Its valuation does not seem to consistent; This is not truly correct, it just values non-violence of an individual greater than that individual's life, or the sum of all the lives that may be saveable.

I'm afraid that, despite having read some replies indicating it, the defination of violence hashed out in the first few pages is not applicable, IMO.

Violence is the application of (any) force to ensure your will against anothers.

This covers psychological imposition of will, as well as physical. As it should. Frightening somebody into doing something is still violence.

In fact, in the end, the only tool anybody ever has is the application of force. Even the most peaceful debate, on any issue, where one side cannot convince the other, will eventually result in conflict. And in conflict, the entity that can apply the greater force, wins.

As a slightly facetious comment; Anybody who believes violence doesn't solve problems, simply isn't violent enough

The other major factor in violence, outside of idealogical clashes and personal attacks, is resource control. It is, in the end, the major one. I, personally, feel that if people were not willing to result to violence wrt to resources, we wouldn't exist as a species.


I think by those sorts of definition, you could potentially class almost any social interaction as violence. We all manipulate each other, all the time. It's certainly not as ethical as absolute respect for each other's independence, but I have a hard time equating it with physical violence.

As for your facetious comment, I have my own: Violence does solve problems. Unfortunately, it often creates bigger ones ;)
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby VannA » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:50 pm UTC

Why?

Physical Violence has a certain point where it is truly serious. anything less than that, and you heal in days. Most other, more common violence, takes much longer to heal.
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Ari » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:05 am UTC

VannA wrote:Why?

Physical Violence has a certain point where it is truly serious. anything less than that, and you heal in days. Most other, more common violence, takes much longer to heal.


Because even small physical violence sometimes causes deeper psychological or sociological problems, despite seeming physically inconsequential. ;)
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Re: Is pacifism ethical?

Postby Outchanter » Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:41 am UTC

Quixotess wrote:I don't really think that there are evil people, only evil acts.

This probably deserves its own thread, but to me this statement is equivalent to saying that there are no alcoholics, only excessive drinking. (Wikipedia points out that alcoholics who return even to moderate drinking face a high risk of relapse.) It seems to ignore the fact that people's brains change over time, forming habits based on actions, and that some habits are very hard to break. A career criminal is much more likely to commit a crime than a gainfully employed citizen, and that makes them dangerous. I don't think anyone is irredeemably evil - it is possible to rehabilitate criminals - but until they're rehabilitated, they're a threat to society.


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