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About Me:I am a student at sixth-form currently studying Economics, Biology & Philosophy and Ethics. My articles are mainly focused on Philosophy and explores the different approaches to ethics. They are written in a way which can be used for revision purposes.
Pacifism is the belief that violence and thus war, is never justifiable. Within Pacifism, there are four main types: Absolute pacifism, Relative Pacifism, Nuclear Pacifism and Active Pacifism. An absolute pacifist is one who believes that any form of violence or conflict is wrong, whilst a relative pacifist is one who believes that in some circumstances war may be necessary or is the lesser of two evils. In addition, a nuclear pacifist is one who forbids the use of nuclear weapons in a war as they believe the consequences from using them is far too catastrophic and immoral. Finally, an active or pragmatic pacifist is one who campaigns for peace such as MLK who campaigned through peaceful protests.
In my previous article, I questioned if pacifism and war can co-exist. After outlining the different types of pacifism it is clear to see that absolute pacifism and war is definitely not compatible because they would argue that going to war is wrong due to the fact that isn’t peaceful and involves killing people - an act which the deontological, absolute command of Exodus 20:13 forbids as “Thou shalt not kill.” Thus since the pacifism principle is heavily influenced by the Bible teachings and Jesus, this quote can be used to argue that there is no good reasons to go to war because it would be destroying human life - an act that is deemed intrinsically wrong. In addition, the Bible states that “those who live by the sword die by the sword” which again, supports the claim that there are no good reasons to go to war. Pacifists would implement this teaching in the argument of rejecting war as they would argue that killing is not the correct way of solving a dispute as it will inevitably lead to the loss of many lives.
So without a doubt it is correct to assume that absolute pacifists will not accept war even with criteria set in place to make it more justifiable. Whilst this is completely understanding and inspiring, through the study of history it is evident that whilst this principle of pacifism is good morally, but when actually put in a complicated situation, it is apparent that war may actually be necessary in that scenario. This was acknowledged by George Orwell, who actually said that pacifism actually condones evil because if one party refuses to fight due to pacifism whilst the other party refuses to oblige then the pacifism party has ultimately made themselves very vulnerable and have put themselves and their country at risk. So for a party to sit back and do nothing due to their pacifism belief is almost a sign to the violent country that what they are doing isn’t wrong because no action is being taken, according to Orwell. I think this is a very valid point put forward by Orwell and so this is why I am a relative pacifist because that example illustrates how impractical and potentially dangerous pacifism is if both parties do not cooperate. Yet despite this, both Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi were both pacifists who achieved their goals without responding to any violence, which I think is truly inspiring!