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Moral UnderstandingsA Feminist Study in Ethics$
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Margaret Urban Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195315394

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315394.001.0001

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The Politics of Transparency and the Moral Work of Truth

The Politics of Transparency and the Moral Work of Truth

Chapter:
(p.211) 9 THE POLITICS OF TRANSPARENCY AND THE MORAL WORK OF TRUTH
Source:
Moral Understandings
Author(s):

Margaret Urban Walker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315394.003.0009

The proliferation of truth commissions and the establishment of a “right to truth” concerning human rights violations embody a politics of transparency that makes moral claims for truth telling about violence and injustice. This chapter argues that having told, being told, and telling truths in these cases has more than the instrumental value of identifying wrongs. Truth telling, through acknowledgment and voice, serves to establish or restore the dignity of victims and to reconfigure a moral community. Dignity is the moral standing of a full participant in practices of mutual accountability. Acknowledgment, as successful apology shows, validates a victims'experience and shifts the reflective equilibrium of common belief to secure stable recognition. Having voice demonstrates one's competence and credibility as a giver of accounts, a constitutive feature of full participation in practices of accountability.

Keywords:   accountability, acknowledgment, apology, credibility, dignity, human rights violation, injustice, moral standing, reflective equilibrium, truth commissions

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