Boycotting and Public Mourning
Some people feel that they should boycott Israel or their local anti-LGBTQ bakery, despite it being difficult to establish these obligations based on standard consequentialist or deontic considerations. I develop a framework on which such self-reports are accurate: I propose that we see some boycotting as akin to a public mourning practice, such as the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva. Mourning practices are complex and socially recognized ways of honoring the dead, as well as expressing and directing the range of emotions we have in the face of loss. Likewise, I suggest that some boycotts are a way of standing in solidarity with victims, as well as expressing and giving direction to our reactive attitudes in the face of injustice. And just as your obligations to mourn are grounded in community membership and your relationships with others, I say the same about your obligations to participate in those boycotts.
KeywordsBoycotting Social practices Care ethics
This paper began as a conversation with Audrey McKinney, and I’m grateful to her for encouraging me to pursue the idea. I received valuable feedback on earlier versions of this paper from audiences at Lynchburg College and the 2016 Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress. And I received remarkably charitable, detailed, and probing feedback from an anonymous reviewer for this journal—indeed, the most constructive and challenging set of comments that I’ve ever gotten on any submission. If I knew who you were, I’d buy you a drink.
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