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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 40, Issue 4, October 2014

Nicholas Parkin
Pages 631-648

Pacifism, Supreme Emergency, and Moral Tragedy

This paper develops and defends a new way for pacifists to deal with the problem of supreme emergency. In it I argue that a supreme emergency in which some disaster can only be prevented by modern war is a morally tragic situation. This means that a leader faced with a supreme emergency acts unjustifiably in both allowing something terrible to occur, as well as in waging war to prevent it. I also argue that we may have cause to excuse from wrongdoing the agents who must choose an unjustified action in a supreme emergency.

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