Philosophy Today

Volume 64, Issue 3, Summer 2020

Special Topic: Vulnerability

Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon
Pages 637-650

“A Distress that Cannot Be Forgotten”
Imagination, Injury, and Moral Vulnerability

For the abstract, use this text instead: "Using the case of the Bosnian War during the 1990s, and drawing on Iris Murdoch’s philosophy, this paper develops an understanding of moral vulnerability, where one’s ability to imagine certain ways of being ethical can be transformed through the extreme violence of war and genocide. There is a vulnerability to moral injury through violence that is grounded in the way persons imagine themselves and the world. Beginning with the wartime diaries of Zlatko Dizdarević, a survivor of the Bosnian wars of the 1990s, the paper turns to different understandings of moral injury, as well as Margaret Urban Walker’s understanding of “moral vulnerability.” I argue these approaches do not capture an important dimension in Dizdarević’s witness. The paper then turns to Iris Murdoch’s philosophy to begin to articulate and account for this dimension and sketch an understanding of moral vulnerability distinct from current moral injury discourses.