Andrew Fulford in his excellent little book Jesus and Pacifism gives six common arguments pacifists use for “absolute non-violence.”
- The Cycle of violence: violence always provokes further violence and never really solves anything.
- The Limits of human knowledge: human beings can never truly determine the guilt of another person, and so coercive judgment can never be verified as just.
- The Immorality of punishment and vengefulness: the very idea of retribution and vengeance are immoral and barbaric.
- The Unloving character of violence: violence is inconsistent with the virtue of love.
- The Utopian character of violence: violence can never truly achieve real justice or common good, even while claiming that it can.
- Hierarchy as intrinsically dominative: any sort of hierarchy is unjust intrinsically, and thus so too for one person to punish someone under his or her authority.
Fulford writes that all these arguments do not assume that at one point violence was okay, but now it is wrong. Instead they “imply that non-violence has always been ethically obligatory.” The value of this list is that it helps the reader easily spot which argument is being used by a pacifist. Next time you are arguing a pacifist try to decide which argument is being used. He also does a good job of keeping these arguments before the reader as he unfolds his own argument that pacifism is wrong. Continue reading