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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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Unnecessary Identities

Unnecessary Identities

Representational Practices and Moral Recognition

Moral Understandings

Margaret Urban Walker

Oxford University Press

Representational practices affect moral perception and moral recognition, and so are proper studies for moral philosophy. Using Wittgenstein's idea that a human body pictures a soul, this chapter examines three patterns of representation of human bodies that impair or bias moral perception and proper recognition of human beings. Stereo-graphy fuses representation of the bodies of one kind of human being to a particular kind of comportment. Porno-graphy repetitively pictures certain bodies in sexualized ways. Necro-graphy produces representations of bodies that picture living human beings as already dead or beyond hope, or inscribe dead human bodies with an insult to their humanity. Moral graphics — the study of morally significant patterns of representation — aids in understanding the construction of identities, the nature and impact of stereotypes, and the fact that some kinds of prejudice are not easily accessible by conscious reflection.

Keywords:   bias, human bodies, moral perception, moral graphics, necro-graphy, prejudice, porno-graphy, representational practices, stereo-graphy, Ludwig Wittgenstein

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