ERIC Number: EJ719240
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Sep-1
On the Duty of Not Taking Offence
Journal of Moral Education, v34 n3 p265-275 Sep 2005
People take offence too easily and are encouraged to do so by, e.g., institutional harassment policies. "Offensive" is sometimes equated with "anything that offends someone", sometimes with a definitive list of specific behaviours. When is it justifiable to take offence? Distinctions need to be drawn: between offensive to the senses and to the mind; between meaning to offend, actually giving offence, and behaving in a manner likely to cause offence; between feeling upset and taking some formal action; between what is offensive to some, to all, and in itself. Comments are made on objectivity in moral judgements. Currently there is a failure to distinguish between what offends and what is objectively offensive. Practical consequences occur in terms of censorship and freedom of speech. Generalisations and jokes about identifiable groups or stereotypes are not inherently offensive. A distinction is drawn between being upset and being a victim. Taking offence is a supremely self-serving act. Current concern with offence trivialises morality and runs counter to basic principles of toleration, freedom and fairness.
Descriptors: Psychological Patterns, Emotional Response, Interpersonal Relationship, Moral Values, Social Values, Racial Relations
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
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