Self-Defense | Moreland and Geisler

This is a book I came across via a recent article I read. The article quoted the book [below] but I wanted to expand a bit on it. The philosophical discussion dealt with “activists” (those leaning towards corporal punishment all the time), and pacifism. The middle ground Doctors Moreland and Geisler call “selectivists.” I will emphasize the smaller quote used in a recent post:

First, in an evil world, force will always be necessary in restraining evil persons. Ideally, killings by police and military should not be necessary. But this is not an ideal world; it is an evil world. Ideally, we should not need locks on our doors or prisons. But it is simply unrealistic to presume we can get along without them in a world where thieves exist.

Second, it is evil not to resist evil. One is morally guilty for refusing to defend the morally innocent. Sometimes physical force and life taking seem to be the only effective way to accomplish this. All too often in our violent world hostages are taken and all efforts at negotiations fail. Occasionally military action may be the only way to save these innocent lives.

To permit a murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable. In brief, not resisting evil is an evil of omission, and an evil of omission can be just as evil as an evil of commission. Any man who refuses to protect his wife and children against a violent intruder fails them morally. Likewise, selectivists argue that any country that can defend its citizens against evil aggressors but does not do it is morally remiss.

J.P. Moreland and Norman L. Geisler, The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Time (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1990), 134-135.