The Fallacies of Objections to Selective Conscientious Objection

Amir Paz-Fuchs, Michael Sfard

The Fallacies of Objections to Selective Conscientious Objection

Abstract

This paper critically analyzes the theoretical and pragmatic arguments raised against the refusal of individuals to serve in a specific military campaign that they view as immoral. The Israeli Supreme Court case of Zonshein v Judge-Advocate General will serve as an axis of the discussion, as it combines two related facets: first, the Court’s decision touches upon most of the difficult issues in the field of conscientious objection. And second, the development leading up to the decision was accompanied by an exceptional clash of academics, each side summoning expert opinions in support of its claim.

Courts worldwide have accepted that a categorical distinction exists between universal and selective conscientious objection. The combination of the Zonshein decision and the accompanying academic debate presents the opportunity to reexamine the theoretical and pragmatic reasons that are offered as support for distinguishing the two ‘types’ of conscientious objection. Close scrutiny finds them wanting.


Paz-Fuchs A, Sfard M. The Fallacies of Objections to Selective Conscientious Objection. Israel Law Review, Special Issue: Refusals to Serve – Political Dissent in the Israel Defense Forces. 2002 Fall; 36(3);111 – 143. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021223700017994.

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