Assuming a Position: Women and Men as Moral Critics in Their Own War Zone

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In their search for an authentic moral self, women and men may at some time in their lives assume a position of resistance. Men are most likely to assume this position in the sphere of war. It is not clear, however, where or when women would be expected to assume such a position or what the nature of that position might be, and how far it could be likened to that of the resisting man. This paper explores the idea that choosing to be a single mother can be a position by and from which women can voice their moral criticism. Such position is comparable to the (known and well-studied) position taken by men who show their moral criticism by refusing to participate in a specific battle during a morally controversial war. The paper begins with an examination of the philosophical and psychological concepts of "separate" and "connected" moral positions available to resisting men and women in the spheres of war and family. The conclusions are based on data from two samples of resisters in the spheres of war and the family: 36 soldiers (30 years old on average) who decided to take a stand as selective conscientious objectors (SCOs) during a morally controversial war and 50 (biologically) mature single women (over age 30) who chose to become pregnant and to remain unwed mothers. The conceptual and methodological questions regarding this comparison are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Connected moral position
  • Contentious objectors
  • Moral critics
  • Moral development
  • Motherhood
  • Resistance
  • Separate moral position
  • Single mothers
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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