SAP sponsored event: Peace and Nonviolent Resistance

War causes unconscionable damage, yet most of the philosophical literature focuses on its justification, either as a form of national defense or as a means of securing future peace. Although peace is the ostensible aim of a just war, substantive questions about peace itself rarely enter into the frame. This conference seeks to fill this lacuna, by bringing questions of peace to the forefront.

Peace theorists, including both philosophers and political scientists, are becoming increasingly skeptical about the long-held assumption that violence is necessary as a response to aggression. The dominant assumption, that war is a necessary response to aggression, rests on equating nonviolence with weakness or passivity. This equation imputes two kinds of failure to nonviolence – moral and pragmatic. The moral failure consists in the fact that the pacifist’s refusal to choose war is a dereliction of her moral duty to stand up for herself and her fellow citizens. The pragmatic failure consists in the fact that violence is the only effective response to aggression. Challenging this dominant outlook, this conference will seek to connect peace to nonviolent resistance.

Questions of interest may include:

  • In virtue of what does nonviolent action count as resistance?
  • How does the pursuit of peace affect the internal justice of a political community?
  • How does preparing for war distort our moral relations, both with those states/nations we regard as friends and those we regard as threats?
  • What methodologies are suitable for developing a theory of peace?
  • Does the pursuit of peace produce any moral obligations with respect to children?
  • How do feminism and critical race theory affect our understanding of peace and nonviolent resistance?
  • Does the pursuit of peace require the development of a particular set of virtues?
  • What global, structural changes would the pursuit of world peace require (e.g., reconceptualizing national borders or the scope of international human rights)?