Violence is moral?

We recently posted this article onto our social media and wanted to take a look at it in more depth.The book ‘Virtuous Violence’ explores how we commonly view violence as the an immoral act. The authors argue that this whilst providing clear notions of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is actually preventing us from understanding the root causes of violence. They instead suggest that violence is motivated by moral beliefs ‘morality, as understood and practised by real-world human beings, doesn’t always prohibit violence….most violence is motivated by morality.’  On first read through it’s certainly quite challenging to think of violence in this way and almost feels like excusing the behaviour of the perpetrators of violence. However it’s important to look past our initial reactions to understand the argument that ‘Virtuous Violence’ is making.

Sadly at times it feels as though we are constantly bombarded with terrible atrocities happening all over the world. It seems all too common to be hearing our leaders having to condemn attacks and those who commit these acts. However the article argues that this is not helpful and indeed prevents us from truly being able to understand violence. Instead the article suggests that the perpetrators are motivated by their own moral beliefs. While we don’t have to agree with these beliefs simply categorising these acts as evil and immoral does not help us to tackle the root causes of violence. Surely put this way it should give us more hope to be able to prevent this cycle of violence? Beliefs are not fixed but shaped by the world we live in and the information we receive. Acknowledging these moral frameworks exist and instead working towards a more inclusive society that doesn’t isolate or marginalise particular groups may help to prevent individuals from relating to these extreme moral beliefs.

So how does this viewpoint relate to the everyday violence we see and the type of alcohol fuelled attack that resulted in Lloyd’s death? (Click here to find out more about Lloyd’s story).

It’s certainly very hard to suggest that this type of violence is in any way a moral act. Yet alcohol and drugs clearly affect the way in which people react in situations. Does this excuse their behaviour? No. But can we condemn the perpetrators as evil people? When we deliver our workshop about Lloyd’s story in schools we always tell the students that perpetrators of violence are not necessarily bad people but may simply make a poor decision. Our workshops are aimed at all schools – we don’t seek to only deliver to ‘troubled’ schools or young offenders. In a way Stand Against Violence is already looking past the idea that those who commit violence are ‘bad’ people. We want to share Lloyd’s story with all young people to challenge their views of violence and make them aware that we may find ourselves in a situation that can lead us to react in unexpected ways. We all need to take a step back at times and remember to think before we act but think twice before we react.

Our recently released research project (view here) into our work showed that what we do is making a difference to young people’s attitudes to violence. Hopefully if more people challenge the ways in which we define violence then there will become a greater need to look to education to tackle the issue.

Click here to find out more about our workshops

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