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DOI 10.12887/27-2014-2-106-12

A. Richard KONRAD – Violence and the Philosopher

The author analyzes the ways in which his contemporary philosophers approach the issue of violence, and focuses on its two distinct interpretations provided by Robert P. Wolff and Wilfried Ver Eecke respectively. His main objection is that the philosophers in question are concerned with justifying violence rather than with explaining it; furthermore,  they disregard the questions asked by moral philosophy about the nature and admissibility of violent acts. Konrad holds that Wolff restricts the concept of violence to the field of political philosophy by arbitrarily resting his notion of violence on a controversial political notion of legitimate political authority. He also criticizes Wolff’s concept of autonomy and his resulting defense of ‘philosophical anarchism,’ stressing that the problem of violence as such is simply eliminated by definitional fiat in this approach.

In discussing Wilfried Ver Eecke’s reflections, Konrad focuses on the idea that certain forms of violence, while deplorable, remain unavoidable and are needed for effecting a change in the society. Konrad emphasizes that there is not enough historical evidence to justify even a rough generalization that violence usually has been necessary to bring about change. In conclusion, Konrad stresses that thinking of violence as necessary, or inevitable, at least under certain circumstances, is a deeply ingrained pattern of thinking for which there is no justification. A philosopher needn’t feel any urgency for trying to justify violence. Furthermore, a belief in the inevitability of violence in an era of increasingly devastating weapons of violence may turn out suicidal. Thus it is important that the habit be broken. This is an endeavor to which a philosopher might usefully lend his critical abili­ties.

Summarized by Dorota Chabrajska

Keywords: violence, non-violence, violence in history, justification of violence, philosophy, philosophers, moral philosophy, practical philosophy

© Springer.
Originally published as A. Richard Konrad, “Violence and the Philosopher,” The Journal of Value Inquiry 8, no. 1 (1974), 37-45, © “The Journal of Value Inquiry.” With kind permission from Springer Science and Business Media.

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» Konrad.pdf

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 20.00
  3. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  4. DOI Prefix 10.12887