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)
In this contribution to philosophical ethics, Claudia Card revisits the theory of evil developed in her earlier book The Atrocity Paradigm, and expands it to consider collectively perpetrated and collectively suffered atrocities. Redefining evil as a secular concept and focusing on the inexcusability - rather than the culpability - of atrocities, Card examines the tension between responding to evils and preserving humanitarian values. This stimulating and often provocative book contends that understanding the evils in terrorism, torture and genocide enables us (...) to recognise similar evils in everyday life: daily life under oppressive regimes and in racist environments; violence against women, including in the home; violence and executions in prisons; hate crimes; and violence against animals. Card analyses torture, terrorism and genocide in the light of recent atrocities, considering whether there can be moral justifications for terrorism and torture, and providing conceptual tools to distinguish genocide from non-genocidal mass slaughter. (shrink)
Moral psychology studies the features of cognition, judgement, perception and emotion that make human beings capable of moral action. Perspectives from feminist and race theory immensely enrich moral psychology. Writers who take these perspectives ask questions about mind, feeling, and action in contexts of social difference and unequal power and opportunity. These essays by a distinguished international cast of philosophers explore moral psychology as it connects to social life, scientific studies, and literature.
Nel Noddings, in Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education, presents and develops an ethic of care as an alternative to an ethic that treats justice as a basic concept. I argue that this care ethic is unable to give an adequate account of ethical relationships between strangers and that it is also in danger of valorizing relationships in which carers are seriously abused.
This essay argues that current advocacy of lesbian and gay rights to legal marriage and parenthood insufficiently criticizes both marriage and motherhood as they are currently practiced and structured by Northern legal institutions. Instead we would do better not to let the State define our intimate unions and parenting would be improved if the power presently concentrated in the hands of one or two guardians were diluted and distributed through an appropriately concerned community.
What distinguishes evils from ordinary wrongs? Are some evils unforgivable? How should we respond to evils? Card offers a secular theory of evil--representing a compromise between classic utilitarian and stoic approaches--that responds to these and other questions.
Thinking of the evils of homophobia and what is needed to survive them requires acknowledging a new category of evil besides the evils of individual deeds, social practices and social structures. That further category is evil social environments. Building on the work of Jeremy Waldron on the harm in hate speech, this chapter extends that account to certain hate crimes that, like the written word, send a lingering social message. The cases of four women survivors of homophobia are then examined (...) in relation to such harm. Two who wrote memoirs had been targeted for murder, one in an evil environment, the other in a more positively responsive environment. The remaining two survival stories are less dramatic. But they are important in how they illustrate ordinary challenges faced successfully by lesbians and gay men in emotionally toxic environments, and how, in this sense, those not directly threatened with murder might still be justly regarded as survivors. The chapter concludes with reflections on the meanings of survival and some of the costs of surviving an evil homophobic environment. (shrink)
This essay reflects on issues raised by commentators regarding my book, The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil (Oxford 2002). They are (1) Robin Schott's observation of the tension between my discussion of forgiveness and of castration fantasies; (2) Bat-Ami Bar On's questions regarding whether evil is ethical, political, or both; (3) Adam Morton's queries regarding the relative seriousness of evils and injustices; and (4) María Pía Lara's concerns regarding what is valuable in Kant's ethics.
Marilyn Frye's first book, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, presents nine philosophical lectures: four on women's subordination, four on resistance and rebellion, one on revolution. Its approach combines a lesbian perspective with analytical philosophy of language. The major contributions of the book are its analysis of oppression, highly suggestive discussions of the roles of attention in knowledge and ignorance and in arrogance and love, a defense of political separatism not based on female supremacism, and a development of (...) the idea of lesbian epistemology. Its proposal for resisting White racism will be controversial. Its treatment of gay rights is not balanced by an acknowledgement that drag queens, like "totaled women," are products of oppression, not simply of intolerance. The most philosophically problematic aspect of the book is its analysis of coercion and of the roles of coercion in women's subordination. This creates an unresolved tension with the positive message of the second half of the book. Despite this difficulty, these essays are an outstanding contribution to contemporary feminist theory. (shrink)
: 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.
Nel Noddings, in Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984), presents and develops an ethic of care as an alternative to an ethic that treats justice as a basic concept. I argue that this care ethic is unable to give an adequate account of ethical relationships between strangers and that it is also in danger of valorizing relationships in which carers are seriously abused.
Social death, central to the evil of genocide, 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.
This essay examines how rape of women and girls by male soldiers works as a martial weapon. Continuities with other torture and terrorism and with civilian rape are suggested. The inadequacy of past philosophical treatments of the enslavement of war captives is briefly discussed. Social strategies are suggested for responding and a concluding fantasy offered, not entirely social, of a strategy to change the meanings of rape to undermine its use as a martial weapon.
Rather than focusing on political and legal debates surrounding attempts to determine if and when genocidal rape has taken place in a particular setting, this essay turns instead to a crucial, yet neglected area of inquiry: the moral significance of genocidal rape, and more specifically, the nature of the harms that constitute the culpable wrongdoing that genocidal rape represents. In contrast to standard philosophical accounts, which tend to employ an individualistic framework, this essay offers a situated understanding of harm that (...) features the importance of interdependence and relationality and that conceptualizes harms as embodied and contextual. The paper ultimately reveals what is distinctive about this particular crime of sexual violence by exploring the logic of genocidal rape: genocidal rape involves the harm of forced self-betrayal unleashed relationally, causing victims as representatives of their group to participate inadvertently in the destruction of that group. (shrink)
Virginia Held, best known for her landmark book Rights and Goods, has made an indelible mark on the fields of ethics, feminist philosophy, and social and political thought. Her impact on a generation of feminist thinkers is unrivaled and she has been at the forfront of discussions about the way in which an ethic of care can affect social and political matters. These new essays by leading contemporary philosophers range over all of these areas. While each stands alone, the essays (...) together demonstrate the lasting value of Held's work to the field. Includes an afterword by Held. (shrink)
Simone de Beauvoir was a philosopher and writer of notable range and influence whose work is central to feminist theory, French existentialism, and contemporary moral and social philosophy. The essays in this 2003 volume examine all the major aspects of her thought, including her views on issues such as the role of biology, sexuality and sexual difference, and evil, the influence on her work of Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, and others, and the philosophical significance of her memoirs and fiction. New (...) readers and nonspecialists will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Beauvoir currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Beauvoir. (shrink)
: Although the exclusion of LGBTs from the rites and rights of marriage is arbitrary and unjust, the legal institution of marriage is itself so riddled with injustice that it would be better to create alternative forms of durable intimate partnership that do not invoke the power of the state. Card's essay develops a case for this position, taking up an injustice sufficiently serious to constitute an evil: the sheltering of domestic violence.
In this unique volume, some of today's most eminent political philosophers examine the thought of John Rawls, focusing in particular on his most recent work. These original essays explore diverse issues, including the problem of pluralism, the relationship between constitutive commitment and liberal institutions, just treatment of dissident minorities, the constitutional implications of liberalism, international relations, and the structure of international law. The first comprehensive study of Rawls's recent work, The Idea of Political Liberalism will be indispensable for political philosophers (...) and theorists interested in contemporary political thought. (shrink)
Feminism was born in controversy and it continues to flourish in controversy. The distinguished contributors to this volume provide an array of perspectives on issues including: universal values, justice and care, a feminist philosophy of science, and the relationship of biology to social theory.
Although the exclusion of LGBTs from the rites and rights of marriage is arbitrary and unjust, the legal institution of marriage is itself so riddled with injustice that it would be better to create alternative forms of durable intimate partnership that do not invoke the power of the state. Card's essay develops a case for this position, taking up an injustice sufficiently serious to constitute an evil: the sheltering of domestic violence.
: The concept of a war on terrorism creates havoc with attempts to apply rules of war. For "terrorism" is not an agent. Nor is it clear what relationship to terrorism agents must have in order to be legitimate targets. Nor is it clear what kinds of terrorism count. Would a war on terrorism in the home be a justifiable response to domestic battering? If not, do similar objections apply to a war on public terrorism?
It has been claimed that most of the world’s preventable suffering and death are caused not by terrorism but by poverty. That claim, if true, could be hard to substantiate. For most terrorism is not publicly recognized as such, and it is far commoner than paradigms of the usual suspects suggest. Everyday lives under oppressive regimes, in racist environments, and of women, children, and elders everywhere who suffer violence in their homes offer instances of terrorisms that seldom capture public attention. (...) Or so this essay argues, through exploring two models of terrorism and the points of view highlighted by each. (shrink)
Gray zones, which develop wherever oppression is severe and lasting, are inhabited by victims of evil who become complicit in perpetrating on others the evils that threaten to engulf themselves. Women, who have inhabited many gray zones, present challenges for feminist theorists, who have long struggled with how resistance is possible under coercive institutions. Building on Primo Levi's reflections on the gray zone in Nazi death camps and ghettos, this essay argues that resistance is sometimes possible, although outsiders are rarely, (...) if ever, in a position to judge when. It also raises questions about the adequacy of ordinary moral concepts to mark the distinctions that would be helpful for thinking about how to respond in a gray zone. (shrink)
Suzanne Pharr's Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism may be an effective tool for women committed to overcoming their own homophobia who want practical advice on recognizing and eradicating it, although as an essay in theory it does not advance the issues. The author seems unaware that Celia Kitzinger has argued recently that “homophobia” is not a helpful concept because it individualizes problems better seen as political and begs the question of the rationality of the fear. I argue that “homophobia” has (...) been misused but that freed of the medical model and understood in connection with issues of pride and shame, it can be a helpful concept. (shrink)
Marilyn Frye's first book, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, presents nine philosophical lectures: four on women's subordination, four on resistance and rebellion, one on revolution. Its approach combines a lesbian perspective with analytical philosophy of language. The major contributions of the book are its analysis of oppression, highly suggestive discussions of the roles of attention in knowledge and ignorance and in arrogance and love, a defense of political separatism not based on female supremacism, and a development of (...) the idea of lesbian epistemology. Its proposal for resisting White racism will be controversial. Its treatment of gay rights is not balanced by an acknowledgement that drag queens, like “totaled women,” are products of oppression, not simply of intolerance. The most philosophically problematic aspect of the book is its analysis of coercion and of the roles of coercion in women's subordination. This creates an unresolved tension with the positive message of the second half of the book. Despite this difficulty, these essays are an outstanding contribution to contemporary feminist theory. (shrink)
Torture is like slavery (and unlike murder and genocide) in that it is not inconceivable that torture might be justifiable. But the circumstances that would make it tolerable are unrealistic in philosophically interesting ways. It is unrealistic to think we can predict when torture will be effective and containable; unwarranted to suppose that humane alternatives are impossible; disastrous to remove motivations to create alternatives; unacceptable to be satisfied with available evidence regarding suspectsâ identity, knowledge of critical detail, ability to recall (...) it, or reasons for not providing it. Most importantly, the costs of even successful interrogational torture would negate the gains sought. Or so this essay argues. (shrink)
This review essay on Janice Raymond's A Passion for Friends, sympathetic to the author's inquiry into the institutional contexts of female friendship, criticizes as unnecessary its rejection of feminist separatism and of the “lesbian continuum” and formulates a possible connection of its account of sources of passionate friendship among women to the new research on women and violence.