Torture and Dignity: An Essay on Moral Injury

University of Chicago Press
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In this unflinching look at the experience of suffering and one of its greatest manifestations—torture—J.M. Bernstein critiques the repressions of traditional moral theory, showing that our morals are not immutable ideals but fragile constructions that depend on our experience of suffering itself. Morals, Bernstein argues, not only guide our conduct but also express the depth of mutual dependence that we share as vulnerable and injurable individuals.

Beginning with the attempts to abolish torture in the eighteenth century, and then sensitively examining what is suffered in torture and related transgressions, such as rape, Bernstein elaborates a powerful new conception of moral injury. Crucially, he shows, moral injury always involves an injury to the status of an individual as a person—it is a violent assault against his or her dignity. Elaborating on this critical element of moral injury, he demonstrates that the mutual recognitions of trust form the invisible substance of our moral lives, that dignity is a fragile social possession, and that the perspective of ourselves as potential victims is an ineliminable feature of everyday moral experience.
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About the author

J. M. Bernstein is University Distinguished Professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of many books, including Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics, Against Voluptuous Bodies: Adorno’s Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting, and Recovering Ethical Life: Jürgen Habermas and the Future of Critical Theory.
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Additional Information

University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Sep 14, 2015
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Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Peter Flaschel
This book is about the study of topics in macro dynamics from an applied, empirical perspective. The modeling philosophy behind most of the chapters ofthisbookisofKeynesiannature,representinganattempttorevivethist- oreticalperspectiveontheworkingofthemacroeconomy. Themacroeconomic research pursued here is somewhat di?erent from the mainstream literature using the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) approach as the basic modeling device. The main features of the latter are the assumptions of intertemporally optimizing agents, rational expectations, competitive m- kets and price mediated market clearing through su?ciently ?exible prices and wages. The New Keynesian approach to macroeconomics has, in the last decade or so, to a large extent, also adopted the DSGE framework, building on intertemporally optimizing agents and market clearing, but favoring more the concept of monopolistic competition, sticky wages and prices and nominal as well as real rigidities. An path breaking work of this type is the recent book by Woodford (2003). However, it is well known that the intertemporal approach of smoothly optimizing agents and fast adjustments in order to establish temporal or - tertemporal marginal conditions in the product market, labor and capital markets, has not been very successful to match certain stylized facts on those markets. A further de?ciency of those intertemporal decision models is that macroeconomic feedback e?ects—and their stabilizing or destabilizing impact on the macroeconomy—have rarely been considered in those models. Yet, those feedback mechanisms, relevant for the interaction of all three markets, have been theoretically and empirically explored since the 1930s.
Marcus Aurelius
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