In March 2016, several U.S. servicemen raped a young Iraqi girl and then murdered her and her family. Pfc. Justin Watt, of the same platoon, learned of this horrific atrocity and reported it. Others in the platoon who knew of the atrocity did not report it. Most people would likely say that Watt's reporting was not only praiseworthy, but obligatory. Moreover, those who knew but didn't report, were in some way falling short of their moral obligations. In his article, "The Duty to Report Atrocities," Stephen Kershnar argues against this conventional viewpoint. His counter-intuitive conclusion is that, most of the time, soldiers are not morally obligated to report such atrocities during wartime. The general thrust of his argument is that such an obligation would have to be grounded in the prevention of some further catastrophe. Since, he argues, this would rarely be the case, there is no duty to report.
Shifting from war to sex, Raymond Raad looks at Jason Stotts's Eros and Ethos: A New Theory of Sexual Ethics. The book is rooted firmly in the Aristotelian, eudaimonistic tradition, though more specifically based on Ayn Rand's Objectivist ethics. Raad reviews Stotts's discussion of the nature of sexual attraction, sexual arousal, and sexual identity and the role of sex in an overall flourishing human life. Although Raad discusses several misgivings about Stotts's ambitious project, he highly recommends the book. He praises Stotts's balance of theoretical insight and practical guidance, along with the positivity and openness that the book encourages.
We round out the issue with two book reviews. Given the widespread renewed interest in income and wealth inequality, Dries Glorieux looks to Harry Frankfurt's On Equality for insight. Glorieux discusses Frankfurt's critique of the moral anxiety about economic inequality, but he notes several paradoxes and ambiguities that arise in Frankfurt's account.
In Why Honor Matters, Tamler Sommers argues for reviving honor culture as a means to reduce many of the social ills we face today. A. C. Spivey's review examines Sommers's arguments, in particular how a revived honor culture might have an impact on the criminal justice system. Spivey finds several theoretical and practical problems in Sommers's account, but argues that the book is still worth reading, at least in part, because of the case it makes for restorative justice.
Thank you for reading Reason Papers.
Shawn E. Klein
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
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|Author:||Klein, Shawn E.|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2018|
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