: On February 22, 2001, three Bosnian Serb soldiers were found guilty of crimes against humanity. Their offense? Rape. This is the first time that rape has been prosecuted and condemned as a crime against humanity. Appealing to Jacques Derrida's democracy of the perhaps and Judith Butler's politics of performative contradiction, I see this judgment inaugurating a politics of the vulnerable body which challenges current understandings of evil, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Two trips to Auschwitz (in 1989 and 2003) provide a context for reflection on fundamental issues in civic and moral education. Custodians of the Auschwitz historical site are currently aware of its responsibility to humanity to educate about the genocide against the Jews, as a morally distinct element in its presentation of Nazi crimes at Auschwitz. Prior to the fall of Communism in 1989, the site's message was dominated by a misleading civic narrative about Polish victimization by, and resistance to, (...) Naziism. In this article, I discuss the attempts of many Polish intellectuals during the past twenty?five years to engage in an honest and difficult civic project of facing up to their history, as it is entwined with anti?Semitism, with the centuries?long presence of Jews in Poland, and with their current absence. An interaction with a tour guide who took me to be criticizing Poles for their failure to help Jews during the Holocaust prompts further reflections on the difficulties of grasping the moral enormity of genocide, on the dangers of stereotyping, on the conditions under which it is appropriate to proffer and to withhold well?founded moral judgements, and on the moral importance of appropriate feelings and attitudes when moral action is extraordinarily risky or dangerous. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Part I. The Concept of Evil: 1. Inexcusable wrongs; 2. Between good and evil; 3. Complicity in structural evils; 4. To whom (or to what?) can evils be done?; Part II. Terrorism, Torture, Genocide: 5. Counterterrorism; 6. Low-profile terrorism; 7. Conscientious torture?; 8. Ordinary torture; 9. Genocide is social death; 10. Genocide by forced impregnation; Bibliography; Filmography; Websites; Index.
: Social death, central to the evil of genocide (whether the genocide is homicidal or primarily cultural), distinguishes genocide from other mass murders. Loss of social vitality is loss of identity and thereby of meaning for one's existence. Seeing social death at the center of genocide takes our focus off body counts and loss of individual talents, directing us instead to mourn losses of relationships that create community and give meaning to the development of talents.
What distinguishes evils from ordinary wrongs? Is hatred a necessarily evil? Are some evils unforgivable? Are there evils we should tolerate? What can make evils hard to recognize? Are evils inevitable? How can we best respond to and live with evils? Claudia Card offers a secular theory of evil that responds to these questions and more. Evils, according to her theory, have two fundamental components. One component is reasonably foreseeable intolerable harm -- harm that makes a life indecent and impossible (...) or that makes a death indecent. The other component is culpable wrongdoing. Atrocities, such as genocides, slavery, war rape, torture, and severe child abuse, are Card's paradigms because in them these key elements are writ large. Atrocities deserve more attention than secular philosophers have so far paid them. They are distinguished from ordinary wrongs not by the psychological states of evildoers but by the seriousness of the harm that is done. Evildoers need not be sadistic:they may simply be negligent or unscrupulous in pursuing their goals. Card's theory represents a compromise between classic utilitarian and stoic alternatives (including Kant's theory of radical evil). Utilitarians tend to reduce evils to their harms; Stoics tend to reduce evils to the wickedness of perpetrators: Card accepts neither reduction. She also responds to Nietzsche's challenges about the worth of the concept of evil, and she uses her theory to argue that evils are more important than merely unjust inequalities. She applies the theory in explorations of war rape and violence against intimates. She also takes up what Primo Levi called "the gray zone", where victims become complicit in perpetrating on others evils that threaten to engulf themselves. While most past accounts of evil have focused on perpetrators, Card begins instead from the position of the victims, but then considers more generally how to respond to -- and live with -- evils, as victims, as perpetrators, and as those who have become both. (shrink)
We introduce what we call the Emergent Model of forgiving, which is a process-based relational model conceptualizing forgiving as moral and normative repair in the wake of grave wrongs. In cases of grave wrongs, which shatter the victim’s life, the Classical Model of transactional forgiveness falls short of illuminating how genuine forgiveness can be achieved. In a climate of persistent threat and distrust, expressions of remorse, rituals and gestures of apology, and acts of reparation are unable to secure the moral (...) confidence and trust required for moral repair, much less for forgiveness. Without the rudiments of a shared moral world — a world in which, at the very least, the survivor’s violation can be collectively recognized as a violation, and her moral status and authority collectively acknowledged and respected — expressions of remorse, gestures and rituals of apology, or promises of compensation have no authority as meaningful communicative acts with reparative significance. Accordingly, we argue that repair in the wake of traumatic violence involves ‘world-building,’ which supports the ability of survivors to move from despair to hope, from radical and disabling distrust to trust and engagement, and thus from impotence to effective agency. Our Emergent Model treats forgiveness as a slowly developing outcome of a series of changes in a person’s relationship to the trauma and its aftermath, in which moral agency is regained. We argue that forgiveness after grave wrongs and world-shattering harm, when it occurs, emerges from other phenomena, such as cohabitation within a community, gestures of reconciliation, working on shared projects, the developing of trust. On this view, forgiveness is an emergent phenomenon; it entails taking and exercising normative power—coming to claim one’s own moral authority in relation to oneself, one’s assailant, and one’s community. The processes that ultimately constitute forgiving are part and parcel of normative repair more broadly construed. (shrink)
This essay explores several moral issues raised by global warming through the lens of Claudia Card's theory of evil. I focus on Alaskan villages in the sub-Arctic whose residents must relocate owing to extreme erosion, melting sea ice, and rising water levels. I use Card's discussion of genocide as social death to argue that failure to help these groups maintain their unique cultural identities can be thought of as genocidal.
: Hannah Arendt's and Charlotte Delbo's writings about the Holocaust trouble our preconceptions about those who do evil and those who suffer evil. Their jarring terms "banal evil" and "useless knowledge" point to limitations and temptations facing scholars of evil. While Arendt helps us to resist the temptation to mythologize evil, Delbo helps us to resist the temptation to domesticate suffering.
In this paper, I work through the possible contours of an anti-genocide based on a framework informed by the work of Giorgio Agamben. Such a framework posits the inherent need to circumvent sovereign power within any form of normative activism. To begin, I show how the nascent anti-genocide movement promotes an ideal in which ?Western? states, particularly the USA, accept the global responsibility to protect persecuted life beyond national boundaries. Using Agamben, I argue that this vision also entails an acceptance (...) of a sovereign framework for the valuation of life, thus failing to confront the inherent power of the sovereign to condemn life in the first place. I then highlight the limitations that Agamben's ontology places on us in dealing with this inherent problem within the sovereign-subject relationship. By positing an alternative ontology, I suggest the possibility of establishing communities of solidarity that challenge the sovereign's self-ascribed role as the absolute valuator of life. Counter to Agamben, I argue that the basis for such communities could be a dedication to the universal sacredness of human life, which is maintained independently of, and in challenge to, sovereign power. (shrink)
Abstract The issue of producing and controlling the memories of the Holocaust is evaluated in this paper as a valid universal example of the struggle over self?identity and the recognition of ?the other? as a moral subject. The normal realisation of morality is presented as part of the denial of the other's identity, knowledge and value. The dialectics of the memories of the Holocaust and the possibility of a non?violent moral education is examined by questioning its treatment of the suffering (...) of ?others? in the Israeli arena. The author concedes that practising the Holocaust, denying the Holocaust and refusing to recognise the genocides/holocausts of other peoples do differ, but maintains that they are to be evaluated as moral stages of one and the same level. The Israeli refusal to acknowledge the genocides/holocausts of other peoples is analysed as a testcase for the possibility of a humanist?orientated moral education today. (shrink)
This article explores the role of reflective judgement in international relations through the lens of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. It argues that Hannah Arendt's writings on reflective judgement, and the dual perspectives of actor and spectator she articulates, offer us a set of conceptual tools with which to examine the failure of the international community to respond to the genocide as well as more broadly to understand the moral dilemmas posed by such crimes against humanity. Having identified elements which (...) form part of Arendt's concept of judgement, parallels in the case of Rwanda are found, drawing on both empirical evidence and recent interpretations of the genocide. Reflective judgement is offered as both a means of critique and as a source of normative guidance for political actors. (shrink)
Some features of the ideology motivating the Roman destruction of Carthage in 146 BC have surprisingly modern echoes in 20th-century genocides. Racial, religious or cultural prejudices, gender and other social hierarchies, territorial expansionism, and an idealization of cultivation all characterize the thinking of Cato the Censor, like that of more recent perpetrators. The tragedy of Carthage, its details lost with most of the works of Livy and other ancient authors, and concealed behind allegory in Virgil’s Aeneid, became known to early (...) modern Europeans from briefer ancient accounts rediscovered only in the 15th century, as Europe’s own expansion began. (shrink)
Much has been written about the ethics of humanitarian intervention in the past fifteen years. In this paper I discuss a variety of justifications that have been proposed (in fact, seven theories of justification), finding difficulties with each of them, and then I offer a theory of justification of my own. My approach to justification will differ from most of the earlier accounts in two ways. First, I begin the discussion of justification at a different point. Second, I seek to (...) expand the traditional discussion of humanitarian intervention to cover an area not usually addressed, namely, the question of the scope of justified humanitarian intervention. If humanitarian intervention is sometimes justified, precisely when is it justified? This is no merely academic question, given the belated appeal to humanitarian intervention on the part of those scrambling to provide a public justification of the war in Iraq. (shrink)
Complicity with wrongdoing comes in many forms and many degrees. We distinguish subcategories cooperation, collaboration and collusion from connivance and condoning, identifying their defining features and assessing their characteristic moral valences. We illustrate the use of these distinctions by reference to events in refugee camps in and around Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, and the extent to which international organizations and nongovernment organizations were wrongfully complicit with the misuse of refugees as human shields by the perpetrators of the genocide who (...) were allowed to run those camps. (shrink)
It is a widely shared belief that genocide – the ‘crime of crimes’– is more morally significant than ‘mere’ large-scale mass murder. Various attempts have been made to capture that separate evil of genocide: some have attempted to locate it in damage done to individuals, while others have focused upon the harm done to collectives. In this article, I offer a third, neglected, option. Genocide damages humankind: it is here that the difference is to be found. I show that this (...) understanding has a venerable legal history, and argue that it has the significant benefits of legitimising intervention and justifying universal jurisdiction. (shrink)
The Rwandan genocide of 1994 occurred due to widespread complicity. I will argue that complicity can be the basis for legal liability, even for criminal liability, if two conditions are met. First, the person’s actions or inactions must be causally efficacious at least in the sense that had the person not committed these actions or inactions the harm would have been made significantly less likely to occur. Second, the person must know that her actions or inactions risk contributing to a (...) harmful enterprise, and must intend that these actions or inactions risk making this contribution. But it is not part of this analysis that the defendant must intend the harmful result. I explore the boundaries between legal and moral complicity and end with a discussion of how the analysis defended in the paper affects such questions as how many people in Rwanda should be prosecuted for the genocide which occurred due to widespread complicity. (shrink)
In this paper I explore the notion of collective moral responsibility as it pertains both to nation-states contemplating humanitarian armed intervention in international social conflicts, and as it pertains to social groups perpetrating human rights violations in such conflicts. I take the Rwandan genocide as illustrative of such conflicts and make use of it accordingly. I offer an individualist account of collective moral responsibility, according to which collective moral responsibility is a species of joint responsibility.
Political reconciliation involves the repairing of damaged political relationships. This paper considers the possibility and moral justifiability of pursuing political reconciliation in the aftermath of systematic and egregious wrongdoing, in particular genocide. The first two sections discuss what political reconciliation specifically requires. I argue that it neither entails nor necessitates forgiveness. Rather, I claim, political reconciliation should be conceptualized as the (re-)establishment of Fullerian mutual respect for the rule of law. When a society governs by law, publicly declared legal rules (...) establish clear and practicable standards for behavior which are enforced in practice. Subjects of the law thus can form stable and reasonable predictions of how other citizens and officials will respond to their actions. After explaining why this analysis of political reconciliation is compelling, the third section spells out the implications of my analysis for determining the possibility of achieving and the justifiability of pursuing political reconciliation. (shrink)
: Virtually nonexistent in traditional American Indian communities, today American Indian women and children experience family violence at rates similar to those of the dominant culture. This article explores violence within American Indian communities as an expression of internalized oppression and as an extension of Euro-American violence against American Indian nations.
Philosophers of religion have written a great deal about the problem of evil. Their reflections, however, have not concentrated, at least not extensively or sufficiently, on the particularities of evil that manifest themselves in genocide. Concentrating on some of those particularities, this essay reflects on genocide, which has sometimes been called the crime of crimes, to raise questions such as: how should genocide affect the philosophy of religion and what might philosophers of religion contribute to help check that crime against (...) humanity? (shrink)
Genocide is evil or nothing could be. It raises a host of questions about humanity, rights, justice, and reality, which are key areas of concern for philosophy. Strangely, however, philosophers have tended to ignore genocide. Even more problematic, philosophy and philosophers bear more responsibility for genocide than they have usually admitted. In Genocide and Human Rights: A Philosophical Guide, an international group of twenty-five contemporary philosophers work to correct those deficiencies by showing how philosophy can and should repsond to genocide, (...) particularly in ways that defend human rights. (shrink)
Between 1904 and 1908, German colonialists in German South West Africa (GSWA, known today as Namibia) committed genocide and other international crimes against two indigenous groups, the Herero and the Nama. From the late 1990s, the Herero have sought reparations from the German government and several German corporations for what occurred more than a hundred years ago. This article examines and contextualizes the issues concerning reparations for historical human rights claims. It describes and analyzes the events in GSWA at the (...) time. It further explores whether international humanitarian law and international human rights law today permit reparatations to be obtained. The article therefore examines the origins of international criminal law, as well as international human rights and humanitarian law, to determine whether what occurred then were violations of the law already in force. Finally, the article examines and evaluates the Herero reparations cases, as well as the potential impact of the cases on the wider reparations movement that sees an increasing number of claims for events that occurred during colonial times. (shrink)