Compassion as a Political Virtue
Whitebrook, M. (2002). Compassion as a Political Virtue. Political Studies, 50 (3): 529-44.
Abstract: The place of compassion in political thought and practice is debatable.
This debate can be clarified by stipulating 'compassion' as referring
to the practice of acting on the feeling of 'pity'; in addition, compassion might best be understood politically speaking as properly exercised towards vulnerability rather than suffering.
Working with these understandings, I contrast Martha Nussbaum's account
of the criteria for the exercise of compassion in modern democracies
with the treatment of compassion in Toni Morrison's novels in order to
suggest how compassion can be viewed politically. In respect of
distributive justice and public policy, in both cases compassion might
modify the strict application of principles in the light of knowledge
of particulars, suggesting an enlarged role for discretion in the
implementation of social justice. More generally, compassion's focus on
particulars and the interpersonal draws attention to the importance of
imagination and judgement. The latter returns a consideration of
compassion to the question of the relationship of compassion to
justice. In the political context, although strict criteria for
compassion are inappropriate, principles of justice might work as
modifying compassion (rather than vice-versa, as might be expected).
Source: Wiley InterScience
(Something interesting I found)Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2008