Constitutional Longevity. Was Religiosity...

Wed Jun 17 12:31:41 PDT 1998

Carrol wrote:

>Yes. And this in fact constitutes a difficulty in all accounts of genocide
>or other forms of mass slaughter. Pain (e.g., pain at the slaughter of
>even 1 or 2 or 3 people near to one) is an *individualist* phenomena.
>Hence it makes little difference to a child whose whole family is
>slaughtered whether that slaughter is part of a genocide or a death squad
>raid only on her family.

This reminds me of an excellent article called "Killing a Chinese Mandarin: The Moral Implications of Distance" by Carlo Ginzburg, that appeared in New Left Review sometime in the last couple of years. Ginzburg focuses on the impact physical distance has on moral attitudes towards killing and he traces the philosophical genealogy of this question from Greece to the present, with a particular focus on the French Enlightenment. His main argument is much like the point Carrol makes here. Killing that takes place far from people's immediate space hardly registers in their minds.

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