Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 49-60

First online:

Complicity in Thought and Language: Toleration of Wrong

  • Judith Lee KissellAffiliated withCenter for Health Policy and Ethics, Creighton University

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Complicity as “toleration of wrong” is deeply rooted in Western language and narratives. It is based on assumptions about the self, our relationship to the world and personal accountability that differ from the Common Law's and moral theology's standard doctrines. How we blame others for “tolerating wrong” depends upon the moral force of public discourse and upon the meaning of censure as exhortation. Censure as blame is usually retrospective, while censure as exhortation is forward-looking and stresses moral maturity and flourishing.