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A Niebuhrian pacifism for an imperfect world

A Niebuhrian pacifism for an imperfect world This article considers the role that might be played by the political thought of Reinhold Niebuhr in contemporary debates over pacifism. It begins with an overview of Niebuhr’s changing position on pacifism, showing how his early commitment to anti-war principles gradually faded over time and was replaced with a pragmatic approach to just war thinking in his later life. The article then considers whether this drift away from pacifism necessarily means that there is nothing in Niebuhrian Christian realism for contemporary pacifist thought. Drawing on Niebuhr’s critique of perfectionist liberalism, it argues that an imperfect and non-absolute pacifism that accepts the permanent possibility of political violence but refuses to offer moral endorsement to such violence can offer a viable political position in current debates on war and peace, particularly in opposition to just war approaches. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of International Political Theory SAGE

A Niebuhrian pacifism for an imperfect world

Journal of International Political Theory , Volume 17 (2): 16 – Jun 1, 2021

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References (46)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2020
ISSN
1755-0882
eISSN
1755-1722
DOI
10.1177/1755088220978996
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article considers the role that might be played by the political thought of Reinhold Niebuhr in contemporary debates over pacifism. It begins with an overview of Niebuhr’s changing position on pacifism, showing how his early commitment to anti-war principles gradually faded over time and was replaced with a pragmatic approach to just war thinking in his later life. The article then considers whether this drift away from pacifism necessarily means that there is nothing in Niebuhrian Christian realism for contemporary pacifist thought. Drawing on Niebuhr’s critique of perfectionist liberalism, it argues that an imperfect and non-absolute pacifism that accepts the permanent possibility of political violence but refuses to offer moral endorsement to such violence can offer a viable political position in current debates on war and peace, particularly in opposition to just war approaches.

Journal

Journal of International Political TheorySAGE

Published: Jun 1, 2021

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