From Subjectivity to Moral Subjectivity
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This chapter examines select understandings of subjectivity, as issues of moral harm in the social sciences are often framed in terms of violence and subjectivity. Although social scientific research into the effects of violence on subjectivity has resulted in valuable insights, there is a cost. Such approaches often view the individual as a political, cultural, or economic subject. These frames are not well suited to emphasizing the moral change and injury that can result from political violence. As a result, this chapter argues that studies of violence that appeal to subjectivity often marginalize or completely miss the moral stakes involved for those experiencing violence, such as the way events shape one’s understanding of their own ability to be “good.” Approaching moral injury in terms of moral subjectivity, on the other hand, where the person is seen first and foremost as a moral subject, can emphasize issues of moral change. In this way, economic, political, and institutional dynamics during war are analyzed not in their own right but as part of a larger approach aimed at understanding how institutional and structural changes affect the moral development and identity of individuals and communities.