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Torture and DignityAn Essay on Moral Injury$
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J. M. Bernstein

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226266329

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226266466.001.0001

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Concluding Remarks

Concluding Remarks

Moral Alienation

(p.311) Concluding Remarks
Torture and Dignity

J. M. Bernstein

University of Chicago Press

This chapter opens with a reconstruction of the opening articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that makes it, as a response to the Nazi deformation of law, an exact analogue of the uprising of the rule of law analyzed in Chapter 1. It is then argued that modern moral philosophy in its deontological, rule-based and utilitarian forms are forces of moral alienation, that is, they are forms of moral reflection and self-understanding that separate persons from their deepest moral commitments and experiences. Utilitarianism undermines our collective experience and understanding about the meaning of torture in relation to the rule of law; while deontological moral principles undermine women’s experiential knowledge of the moral injury of rape, while tacitly leaving the deformation of patriarchal assumptions about embodiment and reason untouched. Modern moral philosophy abstracts from moral experience, making the reality of moral injury imponderable. As a consequence, most women in the modern world do not and cannot have the trust in the world enjoyed by most men. Such an unequal distribution of trust is a marker for our moral malformation and the systematic injustice of the modern society.

Keywords:   moral alienation, moral injury, rape, rule of law, torture, trust, universal declaration of human rights

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