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Facing atrocity: shame and its absence

Hutchinson, Anthony Philip A. (2011) Facing atrocity: shame and its absence.

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Abstract

In this paper I focus on four varieties of shame absence. My hope is that reflection on these varieties of shame-absence will go some way to giving us a more complete picture of the role that shame plays in our moral character and in discussions of atrocity. I note that the shame that emerges from an exposure to atrocity can be in part what leads us to identify the event as atrocious. I progress to argue that when shame is absent, this absence can serve to blind us to the atrocity that is before us and that is ours to work to prevent. Feeling shame is part of seeing the atrocity for what it is in an appropriate emotionally-engaged manner. It is thus a vital part of being human, and its absence in certain cases is an all-too-human failure of humanity.

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