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1. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Greg Moses Between Gandhi 150 and Sept. 11, 2021: Concepts of Peace Meet Pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and Winter Disaster
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2. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Douglas Allen, Sanjay Lal, Karsten Struhl Gandhi for the Twenty-First Century: Author Meets Critics: Douglas Allen, Author of Gandhi After 9/11, Meets Critics Sanjay Lal and Karsten Struhl
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In this author-meets-critics dialogue, Douglas Allen, author of argues that Gandhi-informed philosophies and practices, when creatively reformulated and applied, are essential for developing positions that are ethical, nonviolent, truthful, and sustainable, providing resources and hope for confronting our ‘Gandhi after 9/11’ crises. Critics Sanjay Lal and Karsten Struhl applaud Allen’s demonstration that Gandhi’s nonviolence is serious and broadly adaptable to the twenty-first century. Yet, Lal poses two philosophical challenges, arguing first that the nonviolent message of the Bhagavad Gita is perhaps more essential than Allen allows. Second, Lal raises difficulties involved in placing the needs of others first, especially in response to terrorism. Struhl wonders if the Gita is not more violent than Gandhi or Allen represent it to be. Struhl also questions whether relative claims are always resolved in the direction of Absolute Truth, as Gandhi and Allen assert. Finally, critic Struhl wonders how we can restrain institutions from escalating cycles of violence once we grant Gandhi-based exceptions that would allow violence to suppress terrorism. Against Lal’s objections, Allen defends a more open-ended reading of the Gita and agrees that our service to the needs of others cannot go so far as to embrace their terrorism. In response to Struhl, Allen agrees that there are indeed problems with a nonviolent reading of the Gita, but there are resources to support Gandhi’s view. Likewise, regarding relations between our limited truths and the Absolute, Allen grants that Struhl has identified real problems but that a final defense is possible, especially when we consider motivational factors. As for limiting cycles of violence, Allen argues that a Gandhi-informed use of violence implies considerations that limit its use.
3. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Sanjay Lal, Jeff Shawn Jose, Douglas Allen, Michael Allen Does Liberal Democracy Require a Gandhian Approach to Religion?: Author Meets Critics: Sanjay Lal, Author of Gandhi’s Thought and Liberal Democracy, Meets Critics Jeff Shawn Jose, Douglas Allen, and Michael Allen
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In this author-meets-critics dialogue, Sanjay Lal, author of , argues that Gandhian values of nonviolence raise aspirations of liberal democracy to a higher level. Since Gandhian values of nonviolence are closely associated with religious values, liberal democracy should make public commitments to religions on a non-sectarian basis, except for unreasonable religions. Critic Jeff Shawn Jose agrees that Gandhian values can strengthen liberal democracy. However, Jose finds a contradiction in Lal’s proposal that a liberal state should support reasonable religions only. A more consistent Gandhian approach would focus on everyday interactions between citizens and groups rather than state-directed preferences. Critic Douglas Allen also welcomes Lal’s project that brings Gandhian philosophy into relation with liberal democratic theory; however, he argues that universalizing the Absolute Truth of genuine religion is more complicated than Lal acknowledges. D. Allen argues for a Gandhian approach of relative truths, which cannot be evaluated apart from contingency or context, and he offers autobiographical evidence in support of his critical suspicion of genuine religion. Critic Michael Allen argues that Lal’s metaphysical approach to public justification violates a central commitment of political liberalism not to take sides on any metaphysical basis. M. Allen argues that democratic socialism is closer to Gandhi’s approach than is liberalism. Lal responds to critics by arguing that Gandhi’s evaluation of unreasonable religions depends upon an assessment of violence, which is not as problematic as critics charge, either from a Gandhian perspective or a liberal one. Furthermore, by excluding unreasonable or violent religions from state promotion, Lal argues that he is not advocating state suppression. Finally, Lal argues that Gandhian or Kingian metaphysics are worthy of support by liberal, democratic states seeking to educate individuals regarding peaceful unity in diversity.
4. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Sanjay Lal Revolutionary Nondualism: Simple Living and the Eradication of Poverty in Gandhi’s Philosophy of Nonviolence
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Among those who have worked for uplifting the poor, Mahatma Gandhi occupies a unique place. Although his reform efforts received ample financial support from well-off benefactors, Gandhi’s personal life exemplified ideals of voluntary poverty and renouncement. On Martha Nussbaum’s account of stoicism, Gandhi’s voluntary renouncement may imply morally unacceptable reasoning regarding nonviolence and the plight of the poor. Nussbaum argues that the stoic disparagement of external things of fortune implies that they cannot coherently oppose external harms such as torture or rape as unjust. Furthermore, on Nussbaum’s account, stoic flexibility regarding the duty to render material aid provides insufficient ethical grounds for relieving the injustice of poverty. Applying Nussbaum’s critique of stoicism to Gandhi, I ask if Gandhi’s personal-life renouncement of external things exposes his philosophy to vulnerabilities that Nussbaum finds in the stoics. I then respond to the critique. With the stoics, Gandhi does deny that states of simple living are genuinely bad; therefore, pursuing ethical life means seeking some states of poverty. Nevertheless, based on Gandhian values of freedom, equality, sustainability, service, and character, there are coherent ethical grounds in Gandhian thought for pursuing nonviolence (with its proscription of external harms) while fighting global poverty (with attention to material needs). I explicate a Gandhian view of social uplift that vitally connects individual character to social well-being. I also illuminate a Gandhian model of poverty eradication that reveals deficiencies in a model of poverty eradication that depends solely on the value of external things of fortune.
5. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Michael Allen Techno-Satyagraha: Integrating Economics and Life Goals through Gandhi’s ‘Back and Forth’ Method between Capitalists and Socialism
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Gandhi scholars agree that he was a critic of capitalism, if not capital or capitalists. Nevertheless, they disagree about his relationship to socialism. Some emphasize Gandhi’s claim that the modern Western canon of socialism is incompatible with the philosophy of nonviolence. Others emphasize his occasional affirmation that he is a socialist, regarding socialism as a beautiful ideal of equality. Gandhi moves back and forth between conditional endorsements of capitalists and socialism’s beautiful ideal. In this article, I ask why Gandhi never specifies any clear economic preference for the philosophy of nonviolence. Is he confused and incapable of reaching practical judgments about what nonviolence demands in terms of economics? I answer this question in two ways. First, I argue that passing back and forth over the partial and fallible viewpoints of capitalists and socialists of various stripes is consistent with Gandhi’s method of experiments in truth. The passing-over method extends from experiments in devotion to constructive experiments in economics, laying the foundation for integrating distinctively human life goals or puruṣārthas. Second, and perhaps more surprisingly, I consider the background to Gandhi’s use of this method as applied to economics in Kauṭilya’s classical Arthaśāstra. Scholars often characterize Kauṭilya as both a socialist and a realist. While establishing the world’s first welfare state, his Arthaśāstra is also tied deeply into the material-spiritual concerns of the puruṣārthas, combining economics with duty, earthly pleasure, and transcendence. In this latter respect, however, Kauṭilya’s realism concedes too much to the contextual realities of his time concerning imperial conquest and caste. Gandhi emerges from this inquiry as another kind of realist in his constructive experiments with diverse economic perspectives, equally attuned to the contextual realities of his age. Gandhi succeeded—where Kauṭilya failed—to integrate economics with the spiritual goals of the puruṣārthas. I contend that Gandhi’s back and forth method in economics provides contemporary Gandhians with a way to address new contextual realities of the digital or “gig” economy through techno-satyagraha.
6. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Federico Germán Abal Why Pacifist Leadership Overcomes the Over-Demandingness Objection
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Being a pacifist who refrains from lethal violence is considered a praiseworthy commitment but not morally obligatory. One reason for denying that pacifism is morally obligatory is the high cost that would be implied for agents under attack, who cannot defend their own lives. Thus, pacifists are usually seen as lambs between lions and, therefore, pacifism is seen as morally over-demanding. In this paper, I intend to clarify the over-demandingness objection and to show its limits against pacifism. First, I argue that the cost of an act is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to determine its obligatory nature. Second, arguing from an analogy to Batman, I maintain that there is a plausible moral obligation to never use lethal violence against another human being that arises from adopting a specific social role, namely, the leadership of a pacifist movement.
7. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Michael Allen, Sanjay Lal Gandhi’s Economics and the “Defund the Police” Movement: Solving our Crises of Poverty, Participation, and Character
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book reviews
8. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Gail Presbey Between Gandhi and Black Lives Matter: The Interreligious Roots of Civil Rights Activism: Review of Sarah Azaransky, This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement
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9. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Tom H. Hastings The Grotesque Cost of Militarism’s Syndemics: Review of Catherine Lutz and Andrea Mazzarino, editors, War and Health: The Medical Consequences of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
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10. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Will Barnes Nonviolence as Manic Rupture of Individualism: Review of Judith Butler, The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind
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11. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
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12. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
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13. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Greg Moses, Sanjay Lal From Canons of Peace to Shoots of Resistance: Editors' Introduction
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14. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Douglas Allen Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy of Nonviolence and Truth: The Key Values and Concepts for Gandhi 150 and the Future
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In commemoration of the 150th birthday of M. K. ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, Douglas Allen, author of Gandhi After 9/11, presents an overview of Gandhi’s philosophy focused on two key values or concepts: Truth (Satya) and Nonviolence (Ahimsa). The presentation is offered as an alternative to non-Gandhians, anti-Gandhians, or reactionary Gandhians who often over-idealized the man and his philosophy. With respect to Ahimsa or Nonviolence, it may be easy to see how the value works against overt, physical violence. However, for Gandhi such examples are only a small part of violence overall. For Gandhi, violence and nonviolence are multidimensional, encompassing our personal ego-driven desires and our widespread economic exploitations. Each dimension of violence or nonviolence is both causal and conditioning, beginning with the experiences of children. Ahimsa should therefore be approached as relational and interconnected. Gandhi approaches the structural violence of the status quo by insisting upon transformative structural nonviolence. Gandhi’s approach to Truth or Satya requires a distinction between Absolute Truth and relative truth. Although Gandhi works with an experiential knowledge of Absolute Truth, he was not an absolutist. Gandhi’s primary focus was upon relative truth, which yields temporary and imperfect ‘glimpses’ of the absolute. In relations with others, we seek kinship with bearers of relative truth. This is the significance of Gandhi’s claim that means and ends are intertwined. With others we seek mutual discovery of relative truths generating greater relative truth. Gandhi’s well known Absolute Nonviolence may prevent us from apprehending its relationship to relative transformations in contextual situations.
15. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Court D. Lewis, Gregory L. Bock, David Boersema, Jennifer Kling Author Court D. Lewis Meets Critics on Repentance and the Right to Forgiveness
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Court D. Lewis, author of Repentance and the Right to Forgiveness, presents a rights-based theory of ethics grounded in eirenéism, a needs-based theory of rights (inspired by Nicholas Wolterstorff) that seeks peaceful flourishing for all moral agents. This approach creates a moral relationship between victims and wrongdoers such that wrongdoers owe victims compensatory obligations. However, one further result is that wrongdoers may be owed forgiveness by victims. This leads to the “repugnant implication” that victims may be wrongdoers who do not forgive. Author Lewis addresses the “repugnant implication” by showing that victims are obligated to work toward forgiveness, if not forgiveness itself. Critic Gregory L. Bock argues that victims are not the only ones who can forgive, that the personal dimensions of forgiveness are overlooked, and that the force of the “repugnancy implication” may be questioned. Instead of rights-based eirenéism, Bock supports a virtue ethics framework. Instead of rights-based eirenéism, Bock encourages virtue ethics. Critic David Boersema raises questions about the binding nature of relationships, the dependency of flourishing upon forgiveness, and the nature of needs or rights. Boersema also questions the wisdom of a rights-based approach to forgiveness. Critic Jennifer Kling asks whether a rights-based approach is necessary to ground obligations to meet the needs of others: why not an ethics of care? If a rights-based approach is taken, perhaps a wrongdoer is obligated to not make forgiveness a life good. By disengaging this obligation, we avoid constraining a victim’s work toward forgiveness, especially when the wrongdoing is oppressive. Author Lewis responds to these objections.
16. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Matthew Rukgaber Peace and the Unity of Kant’s Critical Project: Review of Philip J. Rossi, The Ethical Commonwealth in History: Peace-making as the Moral Vocation of Humanity
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17. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Charles K. Fink Acting Out the Kingdom of God: Review of Predrag Cicovacki and Heidi Nada Grek, editors, Tolstoy and Spirituality
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18. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Marilyn Fischer Hull House, the Pullman Strike, and Tolstoy: Documenting the Work of Jane Addams: Review of Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Maree de Angury, and Ellen Skerrett, editors, The Selected Papers of Jane Addams, Volume III: Creating Hull-House and an International Presence, 1889–1900
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19. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Paula Smithka Resisting the Many Faces of Violence: Review of Jennifer Kling, editor, Pacifism, Politics, and Feminism: Intersections and Innovations
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20. The Acorn: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Walter Kendall A New Story for a Politics of Belonging: Review of George Monbiot, Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis
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