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Moral Complexity and The Holocaust

Marc Lee Fellman

This book introduces the first sustained analysis of the idea that the Holocaust constitutes a tension between moral complexity and moral enormity. A great deal has been written in regards to the Holocaust as a powerful symbol, perhaps as the quintessential symbol of moral enormity in the modern era. Less has been said about the human experiences and events of the Holocaust as embodying moral complexity. The author examines those tensions, in part by exploring the categories of victims, bystanders and perpetrators, and suggests novel ways for how we may come to understand the moral landscape of the Holocaust. « less more »
University Press of America
Pages: 246Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7618-4443-3 • Paperback • April 2009 • $40.99 • (£27.95)
Dr. Marc Fellman works in research governance at the University of Notre Dame, Australia. He is also a contributor to an edited volume by Pedro Tabensky, Judging and Understanding: Essays on Free Will, Narrative, Meaning, and the Ethical Limits of Condemnation.
Part 1 Table of Contents
Part 2 Acknowledgments
Part 3 Chapter 1: A Topography of Moral Complexity
Part 4 Chapter 2: Ordinary People in Extra-Ordinary Situations
Part 5 Chapter 3: Dimensions of Moral Complexity
Part 6 Chapter 4: Expanding on the Idea of a Weave of Responsibility
Part 7 Chapter 5: Luck in Moral Experience
Part 8 Chapter 6: Borderlines of Responsibility
Part 9 Chapter 7: Listening to the Holocaust
Part 10 Appendix; Bibliography
Moral Complexity and the Holocaust is the first sustained philosophical treatment of the morality of the Jewish Holocaust that brings together the somewhat paradoxical aspects of enormity and complexity...It is important reading for all those who are struggling to find ways to overcome simplistic understandings of evil.
Peta Bowden, chair of philosophy in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Murdoch University, Western Australia

Of special interest is the book's appendix offering eyewitness testimonies of a number of Holocaust survivors—an unusual feature in a scholarly, academic tome...Recommended.
CHOICE, September 2009

Beginning with the detailed investigations of Christopher Browning, Fellman explores the complexityof moral decision making in the context of Nazi rule and the Holocaust. By showing that individuals were caught in a complicated "weave" of responsibilities, luck and experience, Fellman challenges our often facile judgment of ordinary individuals caught in such an extraordinary situation. This book is meant to relate not only to Nazi Germany, but to look beyond the Holocaust to the larger issues of responsibility, integrity and morality as these play out in people's lives in the real world.
Peter J. Haas, Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies Chair and director of the Department of Religious Studies, the Samuel Rosenthal