Debating Pacifism: Pragmatist and Transcendental Reflections

Public lecture organized in cooperation with the LMU München (Professur für Religionsphilosophie / Sebastian Gäb, Romano-Guardini-Gastprofessur für Religionsphilosopie / Ana Honnacker)

LMU München


The talk focuses on pacifism but draws a more general moral regarding the conditions of ethical thinking. While pacifism is difficult to argue against as it may be a fundamental point of departure in an individual’s moral outlook, Raimond Gaita formulates an unusual argument according to which the pacifist, refusing to “do evil” even when it is necessary to protect the necessary conditions for the possibility of our ethical and political communality, is not (fully) “amongst us”. Interpreting this as a (qualified) transcendental argument, the talk investigates, from a pragmatist standpoint, the significance of the limits we draw between “thinkable” and “unthinkable” ethical views more generally. Pacifism could be argued to be a position that is pragmatically ruled out in advance by our being committed to our form of life as “us”. However, it is further argued that this transcendental refutation of pacifism is itself problematic, as pacifism and the critique of pacifism both require a genuine “other” to the “transcendental ‘we’” established by our drawing the boundaries between the thinkable and the unthinkable. This issue is further explored in a pragmatist context by contrasting the transcendental "we" with Richard Rorty's radically historically contingent "we“.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Sami Pihlström (Helsinki)


LMU München

Raum: M 210


Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1