If there is such a thing as a virtuous community, as Aristotle would have it, and if members of communities need to understand themselves in relation to community, then we have a large space from within which to grapple with the issues of social responsibility. Iris Marion Young developed a “social connection model” of justice which requires individuals to think outside of the borders of any one society when considering their responsibility to others. Donald Beggs advocates for a “group moral (...) virtue,” seeing the possibility of the development of virtuous characteristics of groups separate from their individual members.Combining these two ideas, I argue that it is possible to conceive of a society’s responsibility as one of developing such group virtues as will respond to the structural injustices of our interconnected world. (shrink)
Arendt wrote that "to think what we are doing" may make humans "abstain from evil-doing." I suggest that there is more to it than that. Moral Acuity is a phrase I use to discuss how one can know the right thing to do, often practically without thinking, when situations involving evil arise. Evil, for my purposes, refers to the causing of great harm to another. I propose that to be Morally Acute one must have the capacity for independent judgments and (...) possess sympathetic awareness of suffering. One must be able to make decisions independent of others. And, one must emphasize the suffering of the victim in moral decision-making. "Truly bringing the victim to mind" is a phrase which illustrates these two attributes. Truly bringing the victim to mind underscores the need for a kind of accuracy or acuity of perception unfettered by ego, belief, peers or cultural norm. Truly bringing the victim to mind emphasizes that the victim's experience be foremost in one's mind, that the suffering of another take precedence over other elements of particular circumstances. ;I stress the need for literacy regarding evil and those who refuse. I offer suggestions for moral development which stress the importance of thinking for oneself as well as the benefits of being able to see things from another person's perspective. The combination, while not the only channel for doing the right thing, will, I suggest, increase the likelihood. To be thought-full and clear-headed and sensitive to harm will, in the long run--and doesn't common sense tell us this anyway?--be the best route to determining the right thing to do. (shrink)
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