Skip to main content

Disaster and Debate

Couto, Alexandra, Kahane, Guy (2018) Disaster and Debate. Journal of Moral Philosophy, 15 (5). ISSN 1740-4681. E-ISSN 1745-5243. (doi:10.1163/17455243-20170011) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

PDF - Author's Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 1 February 2020.
Contact us about this Publication Download (366kB)
Official URL


Faced with a national tragedy, citizens respond in different ways. Some will initiate debate about the possible connections between this tragedy and broader moral and political issues. But others often complain that this is too early, that it is inappropriate to debate such larger issues while ‘the bodies are still warm.’ This paper critically examines the grounds for such a complaint. We consider different interpretations of the complaint—cynical, epistemic, and ethical—and argue that it can be resisted on all of these readings. Debate shortly after a national disaster is therefore permissible. We then set out a political argument in favor of early debate based on the value of broad political participation in liberal democracies and sketch a stronger argument, based on the duty to support just institutions, that would support a political duty to engage in debate shortly after tragedies have occurred.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1163/17455243-20170011
Uncontrolled keywords: political debate; emotion; democracy; tragedy; grief; moral epistemology; political participation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Philosophy
Depositing User: Alexandra Couto
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2017 12:55 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 08:54 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year