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Chapter 1 1 Pacifism as a Vocation Crady Scott Davis Editor's Introduction Grady Scott Davis begins his essay by summarizing arguments against any paci­ fist position based on rights, duties, justice, or utility. Then he examines John Howard Yoder's argument for Christian pacifism as a witness to the character and purposes of God. The alternatives are set out starkly: either something like Yoder's account of Jesus is true and its entailed pacifist ethic is obligatory, or pacifist arguments are incoherent and pacifism itself is morally abhorrent. Davis makes use of an analysis by Jan Narveson to argue for the unintelligibil­ ity of pacifism in light of an ethic based on principles, rules, rights, and duties. According to Narveson, if pacifism is to be made plausible as a duty it must be shown to follow from our best analysis of justice. The pacifist seems to have to deny that a person has the right to defense against unprovoked attack, for if any sort of defense is justifiable, then why draw a line between violent and nonviolent defense? Furthermore, to claim to have a duty not to defend innocent friends and fam­ ily members against rape, murder, enslavement is to claim to have a duty to let myself or others be raped, murdered, enslaved. This, Narveson says, "borders on the perverse"; as long as we retain our basic moral vocabulary, the pacifist's po­ sition is incoherent. It advances as a duty a principle of action that asks us to give up the very rights that make duties intelligible. On the other side, Yoder's short answer to the question of why Christians must be pacifists is that it is a part of their witness. Christians are called to be members of a revolutionary community whose existence and way of life testifies to the character of the God who sacrificed himself on the cross out of love. True disciples, therefore, need to undergo a character change, a transformation that enables them to "resemble God in the character of this love." Their willingness to give up attempting to make history come out right is a testimony to their belief that Jesus Christ is Lord of creation and that human life can be understood only in terms of that Lord's intentions. Thus, the story of Jesus is essential justification for pacifism. For our purposes Davis's is an exceptionally interesting essay. Not only does it present two sides of a significant issue in Christian ethics, but it well illustrates 239 240 Grady Scott Davis how differently the arguments will be formulated in Maclntyrean terms versus terms of standard modern philosophical approaches. Perhaps Davis is right that the pacifist argument can be made only in Maclntyrean terms. We have to confess that the reader may feel set up at this point. Readers who have come this far with us should be disposed to be convinced by Maclntyrean arguments, and it is the Maclntyrean terms that are used for the pacifist argu­ ment. It is therefore important to point out that a Maclntyrean conception of the terms of ethical debate does not necessitate a pacifist conclusion. Macintyre himself rejects pacifism not only as unrealistic but as immoral. We believe that the difference comes down to theology. As Davis says: "Yoder must couch his pacifism in the larger picture of disciples following a God who not only comes to them in human form but also sacrifices himself on the cross out of love. . . . The gospel narrative and Yoder's way of reading that narrative are indispensable to the moral integrity of discipleship." Macintyre, we believe, would take issue with Yoder's retelling of the gospel story. NANCEY MURPHY Why We Should Want to Be Pacifists Most of us, most of the time, want to be pacifists, for most of us, most of the time, cannot consider war without focusing, with the eye of imagination, on the puzzled face of the first enemy we kill at close quarters. This, I think, more than the image of our own death, begets horror. Even the courageous, at the last moment, shut their eyes on their own death, and cowards never look at all. But the face of the victim demands, whether in memory or anticipation, its due consideration. Soldiers needn't be particularly reflective to butt up against such thoughts. Fighting alongside their comrades cannot help leading them into contempla­ tion. The situation is only compounded by the knowledge, and perhaps the firsthand experience, of the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268087067
Related ISBN
9780268043605
MARC Record
OCLC
966823021
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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