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The Acorn

Volume 19, Issue 2, Fall 2019

Gandhi 150, Part II

Federico Germán Abal
Pages 171-191

Why Pacifist Leadership Overcomes the Over-Demandingness Objection

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.

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