It is commonly believed that religious convictions moderate death anxiety and aid in coping with loss. However, scant research addresses this issue. We detail the results of an empirical study comparing religious believers and non-believers on measures of death anxiety and grief. More precisely, we investigated the relationships between certain religious beliefs (e.g., specific views of God and extrinsic vs. intrinsic religiosity) and levels of fear and acceptance of death, as well as both painful grief reactions to losses and grief-related growth (e.g., deepening relationships with others, discovering new views of life, etc.). A total of 101 participants from across the U.S. were surveyed, including individuals with an array of ages (19 to 57), education levels, and ethnicities. About half professed religious or spiritual belief, and 71 participants lost a loved one in the last 10 years. Those with some form of belief did not demonstrate lower levels of death anxiety. They did, however, display higher levels of certain types of death acceptance. Additionally, those who professed some form of religious belief, in comparison to those who did not, tended to have lower levels of grief and greater levels of grief-related growth. Those believers who viewed God as warm and interested in their lives (versus more distant) had significantly lower levels of personal fear of death. Similarly, those with high intrinsic religious motivation (seeing religious participation as a valuable goal in itself, rather than instrumental to achieving other goals) reported lower levels of fear of death and higher levels of death acceptance. In short, though religious belief appears to matter in general with regard to death anxiety, and grief, the specifics of those beliefs further nuance how religion is connected with people’s reactions to human mortality.
David B. Feldman, Ian C. Fischer and Robert A. Gressis
Have you ever tried to comfort someone with a terminal illness or one who has lost a loved one? Knowing how to help or what to say that is not trite, insincere, or superficial can be difficult. The point of view of a grieving person is quite different from that of those who wish to offer comfort. In a multicultural society such as ours, anticipating the beliefs of the grieving person can be even more difficult. This book explores the perspective of a grieving person. It considers the merits and potential harm of alternative comfort strategies. As a philosophical analysis of grief, it emphasizes an understanding of the beliefs that underlie grief and the usefulness or dangers of emotions. Because grief is so complex and sensitive, a narrow approach runs the risk of alienating the grieving person. The ideas in this book are expressed in a dialogue among three characters. Their discussion is broad and fundamental. Starting from the familiar consolation, “She’s no longer suffering” and the grieving person’s resentment toward the expression, the three friends articulate the value of life and the evils of death. Their discussion enriches their understanding of grief. Many consolations offered to mourners are poor arguments. Even the better ones do their work best in the context of a greater understanding of grief.
Reflections on Peace Education, Nonviolence, and Social Change
Edited by Andrew Fitz-Gibbon
In Praise of Pariahs and Nomads
George David Miller and Conrad P. Pritscher
Michelle M. Hamilton
Jessica Wolfendale and Matthew Talbert
Recently, a number of philosophers have argued that soldiers typically aren’t responsible for war crimes because situational factors such as battlefield stress and military training undermine their capacity to recognize morally relevant features of their environment, and thus soldiers should be excused for their wrongdoing. In this chapter we challenge this conclusion and demonstrate that this account is inadequate as an explanation of war crimes and a theory of responsibility. Drawing on social cognitivist accounts of personality, we show how military training instils attitudes, beliefs, and emotions in soldiers that inform their uses of violence in ways that can contribute to war crimes. Even though soldiers can’t fully control the dispositions they develop through military training, we argue that soldiers who commit war crimes are responsible for their behaviour if their actions express morally objectionable attitudes that justify their victims in blaming them. However, a soldier would not be responsible for war crimes if her behaviour was elicited by situational pressures that bypassed her dispositions, beliefs, and emotions. Thus, we provide a nuanced analysis of responsibility for war crimes that recognizes that aspects of military conflict can undermine moral responsibility.
Two different views exist on whether or not starting a war is justifiable. Some people accept war as a justifiable action, while others do not tolerate it at all. Thus, the main question is one of justification: Is there any justification for starting a war or not? The same debate can be found among Muslims. On the one hand, people who are in favor of starting a war believe that Islam has permitted the initiation of war solely to promote Islam. On the other hand, there are others who think that from an Islamic point of view no one can start a war, even for a sacred aim like promoting one’s religion. What is the right belief from the viewpoint of Islam? This chapter will study this problem and argue that the only justified kind of war in Islam is a defensive war; Islam never allows Muslims to start a war. The history of wars during Muhammad’s life supports this idea. The chapter also studies an important subsidiary question, that is: What can we say about those verses in the Quran that encourage Muslims to fight against infidels? Don’t they show that the Quran approves and even advises the initiation of war? It will be shown that all of these commands in the Quran have a historically common context: They exist due to the violation of peace treaties by infidels and only encourage the Muslims to defend themselves against those infidels who have in fact started a war against them.