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Disorientation and Moral Life$
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Ami Harbin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190277390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277390.001.0001

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Tenderizing Effects and Acting despite Ourselves

Tenderizing Effects and Acting despite Ourselves

(p.97) 4 Tenderizing Effects and Acting despite Ourselves
Disorientation and Moral Life

Ami Harbin

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that some disorientations prompt morally beneficial shifts in habits of relating to other people and to unpredictable moral contexts. It investigates disorientations of illness, trauma, queerness, and migration, drawing on first-person, philosophical, and empirical accounts of cancer, chronic illness, fatal disease, sexual violence (Susan Brison), coming out (Sara Ahmed), queer activism, migrant life, and “world-travelling” (María Lugones). It shows how, in some cases, these disorientations generate capacities for living unprepared, sensing vulnerabilities, “in-this-togetherness,” and living against the grain of norms, and argues for the moral and political benefit of these capacities. In coming to live unprepared, sense vulnerability, relate to others as though we are in-this-together and live partly against the grain of oppressive norms, individuals demonstrate shifted expectations which more accurately reflect the conditions of oppressive society and prepare individuals to function within conditions of unpredictability, vulnerability, and interdependence.

Keywords:   disorientation, illness, trauma, migration, queer, sexual violence, moral motivation, activism, oppression, vulnerability

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