Surviving Evils and the Problem of Agency: An Essay Inspired by the Work of Claudia Card

Metaphilosophy 47 (4-5):539-557 (2016)
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Claudia Card did not live long enough to complete her work on surviving evils. Yet she left us an invaluable body of work on this topic. This paper surveys Card’s views about the nature of evils and the ethical quandaries of surviving them. It then develops an account of survival agency that is based on Card’s insights and in keeping with the agentic capacities exercised by Yezidi women and girls who have escaped from ISIS’s obscene program of trafficking in women and sexual violence. Card holds that true survival requires not only staying alive and as healthy as possible but also preserving your good moral character. This paper maintains that while exercising agency to elude evil and protect yourself often depends on an individual’s skills and personality traits, exercising agency to restore or develop your moral character often depends on social support.
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