The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 375-397

First online:

Objecting Morally

  • C.A.J. CoadyAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Just war theory entails that some wars may be morally unjustifiable, and hence citizens may be right to object morally to their government's waging of a war and to their being compelled to serve in it. Given the evils attendant upon even justified war, this fact sharply restricts any “obligation to die for the state,” and raises important questions about the appropriate state response to selective conscientious objectors. This paper argues that such people should be legally accommodated, and discusses objections to doing so, in particular, the possible erosion of the state's capacity to wage justified war, the unfairness of granting such exemptions from military service, and the impossibility of determining genuinely conscientious objection.

conscience fairness inscrutability just war mixed motives moral free-riding religion selective conscientious objection self-defence