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The Science of Diversity$
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Mona Sue Weissmark

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190686345

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190686345.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

Diversity and Ethnic Conflicts

Diversity and Ethnic Conflicts

(p.225) 8 Diversity and Ethnic Conflicts
The Science of Diversity

Mona Sue Weissmark

Oxford University Press

This chapter evaluates the cultural, psychological, and moral issues surrounding revenge, justice, and forgiveness. Revenge is conceptualized as symbolic behavior showing wrongdoers that insults will be met with reprisal. Viewed through Fritz Heider’s lens, revenge is also an effort to change the underlying belief-attitude of the wrongdoer, often through aggressive retribution predicated on indignation and sometimes hatred. The legal system has sought to efficiently preempt, neutralize, and dilute these emotions by permitting victims a measure of legitimate revenge under the aegis of public order. However, as ethnic conflicts show, the legal system cannot abolish the zeal for revenge. In ethnic strife, each side perceives itself as the legitimate victim, removing claims for justice out of the realm of right or wrong and framing them mainly as issues of ethnic identification. A case in point is the author’s 1992–1993 study of the children of Nazis and the children of Holocaust survivors. The conference findings showed that the views and feelings the participants inherited from their parents created a barrier to establishing equal moral relations. One potential antidote to this conundrum resides in Immanuel Kant’s mandate: sapere aude, dare to know. One specific method for persuading individuals to pursue this mandate and eliminate belief perseverance is through an exercise in hypothetical reasoning, which trains people to live with ambiguity and multiple truths, and to develop flexibility in their belief systems. Ultimately, however, the finest balm for suffering and injustice is compassion.

Keywords:   revenge, forgiveness, ethnic conflict, ethnic identification, Holocaust, moral relations, hypothetical reasoning, belief system, injustice, compassion

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