A virtual roundtable discussion on Toby Kelly’s book manuscript entitled Battles of Conscience: The Lives of British Pacifists in the Second World War.
Is conscience always a virtue? What if it is too fervent and uncompromising? What if it becomes a form of moral vanity? What if it is simply mistaken? And how do we tell the difference? These are the questions that lie at the centre of this project. While there are no simple moral takeaways in Battles of Conscience, and there are no simple heroes or villains, there are many acts of both bravery and cowardice, often in places where you might not expect them. The author suggests that it is through the lives of people who refused to take up arms that we can get to the heart of the moral tensions of war. This then is a book that stretches wider than the shores of Britain, telling a story about the relationship between war and peace, the lines we try and draw between the two, and the difficulties we face in doing so. Wherever wars have been waged, people have asked the question of what it means to be brave and fight for your convictions, and questioned whether, and if so, just how much violence can be justified in the face of injustice.
Respondents: Lori Allen (SOAS), Maša Mrovlje (IASH) and Claire Duncanson (PIR).
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