ABSTRACT

I address a subject that at first glance might seem to be outside the major theme of this book—which debates an enormously difficult and recurring issue in American public policy. At the risk of oversimplification, that issue pivots on a single set of questions: Whom should the government recognize as conscientious objectors, in what circumstances, and on the basis of what beliefs? I will touch on these questions, but I will address them from a different direction than the other authors. I will suggest that, as a matter of practical public policy, we already have several possible answers, and that none is particularly attractive or palatable. I will focus, instead, on a different, but very much related, dimension.