One action, two moral orientations- The tension between justice and care voices in Israeli selective conscientious objectors

Ruth Linn, Carol Gilligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Two concepts of the highly moral person are analyzed by contrasting two views of moral action, couched in terms of the moral voices of justice and care, in the moral judgments made by Israeli selective conscientious objectors during the war in Lebanon (1982-1985). It is argued that the highly moral person, as typified in Kohlberg, manifests responsible moral action particularly in situations conceptualized as requiring "resistance to temptation," where not acting or objecting to action is justified as right and just. The case of Michael Bernhardt, who claimed that he did not shoot at My Lai, is the example frequently given by Kohlberg. A contrasting view of the highly moral actor and of moral responsibility in situations such as My Lai is offered. These situations are conceptualized as calling for action, where response to people in need is called for. Both modes of action might be viewed as morally appropriate within the same situation and by the same actor. The tension between these two conceptions of moral action appears clearly in the dilemmas described by some of the Israeli soldiers who refused to fight in Lebanon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-203
Number of pages15
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1990

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Lebanon
Social Justice
Military Personnel
Warfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "Two concepts of the highly moral person are analyzed by contrasting two views of moral action, couched in terms of the moral voices of justice and care, in the moral judgments made by Israeli selective conscientious objectors during the war in Lebanon (1982-1985). It is argued that the highly moral person, as typified in Kohlberg, manifests responsible moral action particularly in situations conceptualized as requiring {"}resistance to temptation,{"} where not acting or objecting to action is justified as right and just. The case of Michael Bernhardt, who claimed that he did not shoot at My Lai, is the example frequently given by Kohlberg. A contrasting view of the highly moral actor and of moral responsibility in situations such as My Lai is offered. These situations are conceptualized as calling for action, where response to people in need is called for. Both modes of action might be viewed as morally appropriate within the same situation and by the same actor. The tension between these two conceptions of moral action appears clearly in the dilemmas described by some of the Israeli soldiers who refused to fight in Lebanon.",
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