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Conscientious Objection

  1. C. A. J. Coady

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee460

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Coady, C. A. J. 2013. Conscientious Objection. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Conscientious objection to state commands is not a wholly modern phenomenon. In the early phase of Western civilization, the Greek philosopher Socrates, now a revered figure in our culture, refused an order from political authority to carry out an immoral action. Socrates was commanded, along with four others, to arrest Leon of Salamis, so that the latter could be put to death (see Socrates). The tyrants wanted men of repute to carry out this command because this would have given their regime of terror more public standing. But Socrates ignored the order and simply went home.


  • Christianity;
  • practical (applied) ethics;
  • conscience;
  • non-violence;
  • pacifism;
  • responsibility;
  • war and conflict