The Harvard Review of Philosophy

Volume 28, 2021

Political Resistance

Ashwini VasanthakumarOrcid-ID
Pages 143-155

Victims’ Reasons and Responses in the Face of Oppression

Victims of oppression often disagree amongst themselves on how best to respond to their oppression. Often, these disagreements are cast as disagreements about what strategies of resistance would be most effective. In this article, I argue that victims have a wider repertoire of responses to their oppression which reflect the different underlying reasons they have to respond. I outline three distinct reasons for action—self-respect, assistance, and justice—and the respective responses to oppression—rejection, assistance, and resistance—that these reasons call for. I then provide some general comments on how these distinct reasons and responses relate to one another. Appreciating a wider repertoire of reasons and responses can illuminate the nature of disagreement amongst victims, points to the unavoidability of conflict, and provides for a more nuanced understanding of resistance and its alternatives—an understanding that can aid in better responding to injustice.