In Ethical Loneliness: The Injustice of Not Being Heard (Columbia University Press 2015, paperback 2018), Jill Stauffer argues that survivors of unjust treatment and dehumanization can experience further harm when individuals and institutions will not or cannot hear the survivors’ claims about what they suffered and what they are owed for having suffered. She calls this further harm “ethical loneliness.” With Stauffer’s analysis, the harm of ethical loneliness can lead us to rethink how we understand responsibility for harm, the work of repair, the role of retribution in repair, and how we are constituted as subjects such that we are capable of striving to undo unjust deeds, even mass atrocities. Focused on hearing and what practices of hearing justice demands, Stauffer looks to survivors’ stories to analyze how the harm of ethical loneliness can be inflicted, even by people with intentions to help and survivors. She then shows how revisionary and reparative work can be done to hear those stories with an ear to how the world may need to change in light of survivors’ claims.
Sarah Tyson is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Denver.