Commemoration and Emotional Imperialism

Journal of Applied Philosophy (5):761-777 (2020)
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The Northern Irish footballer James McClean chooses not to take part in the practice of wearing a plastic red poppy to commemorate those who have died fighting for the British Armed Forces. Each year he faces abuse, including occasional death threats, for his choice. This forms part of a wider trend towards ‘poppy enforcement’, the pressuring of people, particularly public figures, to wear the poppy. This enforcement seems wrong in part because, at least in some cases, it involves abuse. But is there anything else wrong with it? We will consider the various ways the existing literature on the ethics of commemoration might help us understand what is wrong with poppy enforcement. We will argue that this cannot provide a complete account of what is wrong with poppy enforcement. We then argue that such pressure can constitute two distinct forms of affective injustice, which are wrongs done to people specifically in their capacity as affective beings. In McClean’s case, we argue first that poppy enforcement is a violation of affective rights and second that he faces a particular type of affective injustice that we call emotional imperialism.

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Author Profiles

Alfred Archer
Tilburg University
Benjamin Matheson
University of Bern

References found in this work

The Aptness of Anger.Amia Srinivasan - 2018 - Journal of Political Philosophy 26 (2):123-144.
When Artists Fall: Honoring and Admiring the Immoral.Alfred Archer & Benjamin Matheson - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (2):246-265.
Rights.Leif Wenar - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Five faces of oppression.Iris Marion Young - 2009 - In George L. Henderson & Marvin Waterstone (eds.), Geographic Thought: A Praxis Perspective. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 55-71.

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