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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Microaggression and Changing Moral Cultures

By Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally posted July 9, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

We can better understand complaints about microaggression and the reactions to them if we understand that each side of the debate draws from a different moral culture. Those calling attention to microaggressions have rejected the morality dominant among middle-class Americans during the 20th century — what sociologists and historians have sometimes called a dignity culture, which abhors private vengeance and encourages people to go to the police or use the courts when they are seriously harmed. Less serious offenses might be ignored, and certainly any merely verbal offense should be. Parents thus teach their children to say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

Microaggression complaints make clear that this is no longer settled morality. Those who see microaggressions as a serious problem and who bring up minor and unintentional slights reject the idea that words can’t hurt, that slights should be brushed off, that even overt insults should be ignored. This attitude reveals the emergence of a new moral culture, one we call victimhood culture, since it valorizes victimhood.

Microaggression complaints are just one manifestation; from the same circles of campus activists also come calls for trigger warnings to alert sensitive students to course material that might disturb them, and the creation of "safe spaces" to shield students from offensive ideas.

The entire blog post is here.
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