Seeing Child Soldiers As Morally Compromised Warriors

The Ambiguous Moral Responsibility Of Child Soldiers

By Professor Krista K. Thomason (Swarthmore College)

September 13, 2016         Picture: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters.

This article is part of The Critique’s September/October 2016 Issue “The Bright Continent: Illuminating The Challenges, Opportunities & Promises Of A Rising Africa”.

The stereotypical image of a child soldier is a dark-skinned boy in military fatigues holding an assault rifle.[i] He is presumed to be African. Whether he is from Sierra Leone, South Sudan, or Somalia typically doesn’t enter into the Western imagination. The fact that this image is the one most often associated with child soldiers both originates from and perpetuates the vision of Africa as, “one dark blob of violence…instead of a continent of 54 countries, each with a unique history and culture.”[ii]

This stereotypical homogenous image is as misleading about child soldiers as it is about Africa. Just last year, the U.N. received reports of children being recruited into conflict in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Myanmar, Syria, Columbia, India, Pakistan, and Philippines.[iii] Many child soldiers are girls and young women, and not all child soldiers participate in combat.[iv] Seeing child soldiers as primarily dark-skinned boys with assault rifles obscures the variety of experiences of all the children who have been and are now involved in conflicts in disparate parts of the world.

It would likewise be misleading to think that the use of child soldiers doesn’t pose particular challenges for many countries in Africa. Beginning in the 1970s and lasting until the late 1990s, children fought in conflicts in both Mozambique and Angola.[v] Child soldiers played a major role on both sides of the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.[vi] The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda captured Western popular attention with the ill-fated “Kony 2012” campaign, even though it had been using child soldiers since the 1990s.[vii] In 2015, recruitment of children into conflict was reported in Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Nigeria.[viii] Recent abductions of young girls by groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria, which inspired the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, serve as reminders that children still live through and participate in conflict in several African countries.

The use of child soldiers raises a number of philosophical questions. Are they legally responsible for their actions given both their age and the fact that they are often coerced in conflict? If so, how ought we to punish them? Are they to be classified as combatants in the same way as adult soldiers? Do the same rules of combat apply? The question I’ll address is about moral responsibility: are child soldiers morally responsible for their actions in conflict?

There are at least two ways we might think about moral responsibility. First, we might ask whether or not other people should hold child soldiers responsible for their actions. In general, when we ask whether we should hold others responsible for their actions, we are asking whether we ought to see them as open to certain moral assessments in light of their actions.[ix] Usually we ask whether we should see them as open to feelings of blame, to criticisms of their motives, or to judgments about their characters. It’s tempting to think that any answer to the question about the moral responsibility of child soldiers depends heavily on whether or not others can or should hold them responsible.[x]

Holding child soldiers responsible for their actions is complicated by the fact that they straddle the line between victim and perpetrator. On one hand, child soldiers are often kidnapped, tortured, and forced into conflict. They are threatened with death and violence if they don’t comply with their captors’ demands. Additionally, since many child soldiers are underage, we confront questions about their mens rea. Similar questions arise in law with regard to juvenile offenders. Given their stage of psychological development, it may not be clear that they are capable of the executive functioning we typically associate with adult reasoning.[xi] Under these circumstances, it’s hard to imagine morally judging child soldiers for what they do.

On the other hand, children—including child soldiers—are still agents. Using legal responsibility as a model can conceal this point. Think about the way parents respond to their children’s bad actions; parents start holding their children responsible for what they do at an early age. Even if they lack the same sorts of reasoning capacities or impulse control as adults, we still see them as the authors of their actions and we still hold them accountable albeit in different ways. We might think their mens rea is diminished, but it isn’t absent. It is common to hear stories of child soldiers that present them as brainwashed or programmed, but scholars who have studied child soldiers emphasize that they do not mindlessly or robotically follow orders.[xii] They try to find ways to resist their captors, and they often try to escape. They develop strategies and exercise “tactical agency” to adapt to new situations.[xiii] Some of them even commit to doing their assigned tasks well because it keeps them safer. As one former LRA recruit puts it, “The time you are threatened all the time is when you are still new. But when you are a real soldier, a good fighter already been trained, you are now respected.”[xiv]

The result of these two conflicting aspects of child soldiers’ lives leaves us with the question: should we see them primarily as victims or primarily as perpetrators? One of the reasons we try to determine if child soldiers are victims or perpetrators is because we have different attitudes toward each role. We typically pity or have compassion for victims, but we typically feel anger or resentment toward perpetrators. Since holding people responsible for their actions means that they are open to certain kinds of assessment in light of them, determining who is a victim and who is a perpetrator will help determine which kinds of assessments we should make.

The case that we should see them as victims is easy to make. Consider the common trajectory of a child soldier forced into a combat role. A child is kidnapped from his home after his parents have been killed in front of him and his village is burned. He is forced to do hard labor and beaten when he becomes exhausted.[xv] Other children who try to escape are killed in front of him, or he is forced to participate in the killing of those who disobey.[xvi] He is forced to drink the blood of either escapees who are killed in front of him or the first person he is forced to kill.[xvii] He is given drugs.[xviii] He is given a new name and forbidden to ever speak of his past.[xix] He then endures the horrors of actual combat. If he manages to survive and escape, he often suffers nightmares, is unable to earn a living, and may have nowhere to go aside from an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp.[xx]

If child soldiers turn out to be victims, then it looks like holding them responsible for their actions is simply compounding their pain. How could we in good conscience see these children as open to blame or criticism for doing what they did? Given what they’ve gone through, they surely deserve compassion rather than blame. Thinking of them as perpetrators, it seems, erases all the coercion and violence they’ve been subjected to.


“How could we in good conscience see these children as open to blame or criticism for doing what they did?”. 

The trouble is that the categories of victim and perpetrator aren’t mutually exclusive. The tragic truth is that child soldiers are often both. They are coerced into violence, but they also commit violence. The violence they commit isn’t always in self-defense. What is more, child soldiers—particularly those who spend longer periods with the groups who abduct them—sometimes come to identify as soldiers:

“When we were on reconnaissance missions, we often killed people who came across our path. Many of them didn’t do us any harm.”[xxi]


“I was not afraid, when I killed [enemy] soldiers, I would laugh at them.”[xxii]


“Timangane had lost count of how many people he had killed…[he] identified with his commander…[he thought he] had the power to decide about life and death.”[xxiii]


“If you go and find you have killed many of your opponents, you are very happy. It was not bad, we felt it was nice.”[xxiv]


“I was angry, because I missed my squad and needed more violence.”[xxv]


It is easy to read these words and conjure up the image of the broken and brainwashed child; only children so thoroughly indoctrinated into violence could possibly say such things. Yet many of those same soldiers also feel regret, sadness, guilt, and shame about the violence they committed:

“When I think of all this, my heart beats and becomes very sore and I am unable to sleep at night.”[xxvi]


“I didn’t like [killing innocent people], I was very sad to witness and be part of that.”[xxvii]


“It was very hard to kill, and then look at all the dead bodies.”[xxviii]


“The more I spoke about my experiences…the more I began to cringe at the gruesome details.”[xxix]


“The spirits of those I killed in the war are haunting me and making me ill.”[xxx]


Some children who have been in combat identify themselves as perpetrators. But unlike the popular image of the brainwashed child murderer, they also express regret and sadness at having participated in killing. These are feelings people have toward actions for which they see themselves as responsible. This might seem strange given that child soldiers are coerced into committing this violence—why should they feel responsible for something they were forced to do? But these responses aren’t so unusual. In more run-of-the-mill cases, we are sorry for bad things we do even if we aren’t always in direct control of the circumstances. If I promise to meet a friend for dinner, but I fall ill beforehand and have to cancel, I might feel bad about letting her down even if I can’t help that I’m sick. Child soldiers, of course, do more than just miss out on a dinner. They have actively participated in combat and in killing—they may not have wanted to and they may not have joined the fight voluntarily, but other people didn’t pull the triggers for them.


“Unlike the popular image of the brainwashed child murderer, they also express regret and sadness at having participated in killing”.


What happens, then, when the child soldiers see themselves as morally responsible for their actions even if other people are hesitant to hold them responsible? One possibility is that children who suffer through this much violence and coercion are simply so traumatized that they wrongly heap guilt and shame upon themselves. Seeing child soldiers through the lens of trauma sufferers seems fitting. Studies show that children involved in conflict experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): trouble sleeping, recurring memories of violence, difficulty concentrating, and high levels of anxiety.[xxxi] Given what they witness and live through, it’s no wonder that they would suffer from PTSD. Why not think that their feelings of guilt, sadness, shame, and regret are simply part of their trauma—trauma in dire need of healing and compassion?

Child soldiers no doubt struggle with PTSD, but people often use their PTSD to define the whole of their experience: the tendency is to see them as just traumatized victims. The fact that child soldiers suffer from symptoms of PTSD is only one challenge they face. Poverty, lack of employment, and social isolation are equally as damaging to their lives after conflict.[xxxii] Common treatments for PTSD are designed on the model of someone who suffers rather than perpetuates violence, and so it’s unclear that affixing the PTSD label will provide child soldiers with the recovery strategies they need.[xxxiii] Further, focusing on PTSD is often attractive to Western NGOs and outside experts, but implementing the psychological treatment that it calls for often oversteps local practices of healing.[xxxiv] In Angola and Mozambique, for example, child soldiers went through traditional cleansing rituals that both benefitted them psychologically and helped reunite them with their families and communities.[xxxv] From the perspective of a medical and psychological model, such practices are benighted at best and impediments to “real” healing at worst. The PTSD label risks “being trapped in the web of another African pathology for the consumption of the Western audience.”[xxxvi] Crucially, using PTSD as the defining feature of child soldiers’ experiences reinforces the belief that they are broken, damaged, or brainwashed—it presents them as helpless patients in need of treatment.[xxxvii]

One major question is whether or not the PTSD model helps child soldiers make sense of their time in conflict. In his memoirs, Ishmael Beah encounters precisely this strategy when he is moved to the Benin Home for rehabilitation after he is in combat in Sierra Leone. He recalls that the staff at the home would repeat to him and the other children: “It’s not your fault.” The staff members would repeat this even after the children engaged in aggressive forms of rebellion. Ishmael and the other boys fight with each other, destroy furniture, steal drugs from the medical supply, burn their school supplies, and beat one of the staff members into bloody unconsciousness.[xxxviii]

Clearly, the staff members see the boys as in need of radical compassion. Yet Ishmael and the other boys return their compassion with further torment: “Their smiles made us hate them all the more.”[xxxix] Ishmael explains that they wanted the “civilians” to respect them as soldiers and to realize that they once had the power to decide “if they would live or die.”[xl] It’s easy to see this behavior simply as lashing out. We could even attribute it to their trauma. In fact, some studies show that child soldiers suffer from a phenomenon known as appetitive aggression: young children who are repeatedly exposed to violence sometimes develop pleasurable responses to it.[xli] The staff members at the home likely attribute the boys’ violent behavior to the violent conditions they lived through, which is why they insist that what the boys do isn’t their fault. They see them as children—damaged children who are essentially going through withdrawal both from violence and from drugs—but still children underneath all the damage.

This response is compassionate and well-meaning. But the experience of child soldiers is a complex one and choosing to look at them and see damaged children may not do justice to their own experiences of themselves. One of Ishmael’s later encounters reveals this point.[xlii] Months have passed since Ishmael participated in the attack on one of the staff members. He has finished going through withdrawal from the drugs he used, and he is beginning to be able to talk more about his experiences in combat. For the first time, he opens up to his nurse, Esther, and tells her a story about how he got some of his scars: he was shot in the foot when his squad was ambushed by government soldiers. His squad was able to capture the men who shot him, and he shot all of them in the feet before finally executing them. When he finishes his story, Esther responds by saying, “None of what happened was your fault. You were just a little boy.”[xliii]

Instead of being comforted, Ishmael is angry: “I became angry and regretted that I told someone, a civilian, about my experience. I hated the ‘It’s not your fault’ line that all the staff members said every time anyone spoke about the war.”[xliv] Ishmael still hates being told “it’s not your fault” long after he is beginning to find solid footing in the Benin Home, so his angry response toward Esther can’t be attributed merely to his continued psychological instability.

Why is Ishmael angry? I suggest he is angry because he feels as though Esther doesn’t really listen to him. She tries to alleviate the painful feelings of guilt by convincing him that he isn’t responsible for the violence he committed. She is entreating him to see himself as a victim—captured by the rebels, indoctrinated by fear, and coerced into the horrific things he did. But Ishmael rejects this view of himself. He sees himself as a soldier. Esther doesn’t need to remind him that he was forced into violence. Ishmael knows this about himself already. The problem is that this knowledge doesn’t erase the fact that, once he was fully in the rebel group, he became a solider—not just in the eyes of leaders, but in his own eyes as well. When Ishmael opens up to Esther, he shares his experiences as a soldier who both suffered in battle, but also murdered out of revenge. And she responds to him by telling him that he was simply a child and didn’t know what he was doing. She does it to comfort and absolve him, but what he seeks from her isn’t comfort or absolution. What he seems to seek is something more like understanding and recognition.

From the stories of other child soldiers above, we can see that Ishmael’s experiences aren’t unique. They too come to (at least partially) identify as soldiers even if they were originally coerced into fighting. If they identify as soldiers, they likely make sense of themselves and their actions in those terms. If the label of traumatized child doesn’t capture these sorts of experiences, what alternatives do we have?

Here I was to suggest that child soldiers are morally injured: they have been morally violated, done things they know are morally wrong, and lived in a prolonged state of moral ambiguity.[xlv] They see themselves as moral persons—perhaps not with full accountability—but enough to think of themselves as morally compromised. People who have been morally compromised in this way experience “moral dislocation.”[xlvi] Once child soldiers are out of immediate conflict and danger, they are then left with the task of getting over this sense of dislocation. They thus have to morally relocate themselves. How does a morally compromised person go about this task?

To help illustrate this process, we can learn from the experiences of American ex-combat veterans. There are instructive similarities in the two cases. Nancy Sherman interviews several former soldiers who seem to hold themselves responsible for incidents over which they had no control. One sergeant feels responsible because he was on an ordered “R&R” when members of his unit were killed when their truck hit an IED. He says, “I felt almost responsible for not being there to provide them with the information that may have potentially resulted in a different outcome.”[xlvii] Obviously, the sergeant isn’t at fault for what happened, so just as the staff members do with Ishmael, others likely react by telling the sergeant “it’s not your fault” or “you couldn’t have known.” But, as Sherman points out, the sergeant is “working out the boundaries” of his own moral responsibility for himself.[xlviii] In the sergeant’s own mind, the question of whether or not he was in some way responsible isn’t as obvious as it is to outsiders. Since combat is morally disorienting, it shouldn’t be surprising that the sergeant would need to rethink the terms of his own responsibility.

Similarly, even if it might seem clear to the staff at the Benin Home that Ishmael and the other boys aren’t to be blamed for what they’ve done, the staff members aren’t the ones who lived steeped in violence and who took people’s lives. Ishmael has to go through the process of recalibrating his identity for himself. No one—no matter how well meaning—can sort through his own past motives, desires, and deeds for him. It may not be helpful for others to try to convince Ishmael that his feelings of regret, sadness, guilt, and shame are misguided or confused even if others are trying to help. Experiencing these emotions might be part of the process of moral relocation.

The experiences of ex-combat veterans and child soldiers tell us something about the asymmetry of holding others responsible and seeing ourselves as responsible. Feelings like guilt or regret are thought to be the first-person analogs to blame and resentment. If I resent you for a wrong you’ve done to me, then I expect you to feel guilty for doing it. As such, when it looks like blame or resentment are inappropriate—in the case of child soldiers coerced into violence—then it looks like guilt or regret are likewise inappropriate. But it’s a mistake to think that these emotions play only one role or that they always play the same role in two different contexts. When people are morally compromised, the standard rules of moral exchange might not apply. The guilt, regret, and feelings of accountability that child soldiers experience may not be self-flagellation heaped upon the pain they’ve already suffered. These feeling might instead be part of their own “working out” of the boundaries of their moral self.

We often think that seeing child soldiers as soldiers is simply cruel because of what we imagine that entails. If we decide to see child soldiers as soldiers, this objection goes, we’re expected to assume that they were in full control of their actions when we have evidence to the contrary. Likewise, we assume we ought to blame them for what they’ve done and perhaps subject them to legal punishment. What’s more, we think that attitudes like blame and resentment are too harsh and may end up wounding the already wounded. We think that child soldiers have suffered enough and to see them as soldiers rather than as children is to hold them to an unfair and ultimately damaging standard.

But seeing child soldiers as soldiers isn’t about holding them to an unfair standard, blaming them, or punishing them. It’s about seeing their experiences through a different lens. Instead of seeing them as traumatized children in need of healing, we instead see them as moral agents who have survived moral injury. Like ex-combat soldiers, child soldiers have seen and done terrible things. Surviving these sorts of experiences test the boundaries of their moral selves. Making the transition out of violence and into civilian life requires them to recalibrate both their sense of themselves and their sense of moral agency. Feelings of responsibility—even when they seem misguided or irrational to others—are part of the process of redrawing the moral lines that have been blurred.

Moreover, many child soldiers already see themselves as soldiers and are trying to make sense of their actions and their identities in those terms. The refusal of others to see them this way risks burying them in further isolation. As the ex-combat soldiers interviewed by Sherman discuss, they have difficulty sharing their experiences of war with others, especially civilians.[xlix] People who haven’t been in war and haven’t come face-to-face with violence have difficulty really understanding what it’s like for those who have. As Ishmael discovers, even Esther who is motivated to listen and to help has trouble really hearing what he tries to tell her.

One of the ways that others can help child soldiers is by helping them to morally relocate themselves.[l] As Ishmael and as ex-combat vets show, relocation will sometimes require articulating the ways in which they feel responsible for what they’ve done. That task can benefit from a sympathetic and non-judgmental interlocutor. But this process requires that outsiders be willing to listen: others must be willing to hear what’s being said and not what they think is being said. Indeed, in his work with Vietnam veterans, Jonathan Shay comes to precisely this conclusion: “So before analyzing, before classifying, before thinking, before trying to do anything—we should listen.”[li] Trying to convince child soldiers that they are traumatized children who are not at fault for what they’ve done may be well-intentioned. There may even be child soldiers who need to hear this in order to help them recover. But when child soldiers already think of themselves as soldiers, we do them a disservice and an injustice in trying to overwrite their sense of who they are even when it is motivated by compassion. The moral complexities of child soldiers push us to see more than a dark-skinned boy with an assault rifle and more than a damaged child in need of healing.

Footnotes & References

[i] I have developed some of the ideas in this piece in an earlier article. See Krista K. Thomason, “Guilt and Child Soldiers” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2016): 115-127

[ii] Karen Attiah, “Louise Linton Just Wrote the Perfect White-Savior-in-Africa Story” The Washington Post 6 July 2016.

[iii] 2016 Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (A/70/836-S/2016/360) 20 April 2016

[iv] Michael Wessells, Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006, pp. 6-8.

[v] Alicinda Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006, pp. 11-14

[vi] Tunde Zack-Williams, “When Children Become Killers: Child Soldiers in the Civil War in Sierra Leone” in Handbook of Resilience of Children in War ed. Chandi Fernando and Michael Ferrari, New York: Springer, 2013: pp. 83-94

[vii] Christopher Blattman and Jeannie Annan, “On the Nature and Causes of LRA Abduction: What the Abductees Say” in The Lord’s Resistance Army: Myth and Reality ed. Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot, New York: Zed Books, 2010

[viii] Annual Report on Children in Armed Conflict

[ix] For this formulation, see Angela Smith, “On Being and Holding Responsible” The Journal of Ethics 11 (2004): pp. 465-484, pp. 468-469

[x] See for example Jeff McMahan “An Ethical Perspective on Child Soldiers” in Child Soldiers in the Age of Fractured States ed. Scott Gates and Simon Reich. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010

[xi] Fagan et. al tackle this question, see Tyler Fagan, William Hirstein, and Katrina Sifferd, “Child Soldiers, Executive Functions, and Culpability” International Criminal Law Review 16 (2016): 258-286

[xii] Wessells writes, “[C]hildren are not robots who passively adopt the rhetoric and morals of the armed groups they live within” (2006, 144). Likewise Boyden points out that child soldiers are “well aware that they have committed wrongs in the eyes of their communities” (2003, 356). Jo Boyden, “The Moral Development of Child Soldiers: What do Adults Have to Fear?” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 9 (2003): 343-362. Also, Mergelsberg does field work with formers members of the LRA and concludes that “the view of child soldiers as helpless children without agency in what happened to them often does not correspond to their actual experiences” (2010, 156-5) Ben Mergelsberg, “Between Two Worlds: Former LRA Soldiers in Northern Uganda” The Lord’s Resistance Army: Myth and Reality ed. Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot, New York: Zed Books, 2010

[xiii] Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 71.

[xiv] Melsgelberg, “Between Two Worlds, p. 159

[xv] Wessells, Child Soldiers, p. 61

[xvi] Wessells, Child Soldiers, p. 62

[xvii] Wessells, Child Soldiers, p. 62, Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, pp. 62-63

[xviii] Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 59

[xix] Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 67

[xx] Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, pp. 72-73; Wessells Child Soliders, pp. 126-128; Mergelsberg, “Between Two Worlds,” pp. 165-166

[xxi]A former child soldier from Angola quoted in Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 66

[xxii] Former solider in Liberian small boys unit, quoted in Wessells, Child Soldiers, p. 83

[xxiii] Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 72

[xxiv] Former LRA member quoted in Mergelsberg, “Between Two Worlds,” p. 162

[xxv] Ishmael Beah, former child soldier, describes being in a rehabilitation camp after the war in Sierra Leone, p. 140. Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone, New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007.

[xxvi] Former child solder from Angola quoted in Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 72

[xxvii] Former Angolan child soldier quoted in Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 66

[xxviii] Former child soldier from Mozambique quoted in Honwanna, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 65

[xxix] Beah, Long Way Gone, p.166

[xxx] Former child solider in Angola quoted in Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, p. 69

[xxxi] Wessells, Child Soldiers, pp. 131-134, Neil Boothby, “What Happens When Child Soldiers Grow Up? The Mozambique Case Study” Intervention 4 (2006): 244-259

[xxxii] Wessells, Child Soldiers, p. 133

[xxxiii] Brett T. Litz, et. al “Moral Injury and Moral Repair in War Veterans: A Preliminary Model and Intervention Strategy” Clinical Psychology Review 29 (2009): 695-706

[xxxiv] Wessells, Child Soldiers, pp. 135-136

[xxxv] Honwana, Child Soldiers in Africa, pp. 121-122

[xxxvi] Zack-Williams, “When Soldiers Become Killers,” p. 83

[xxxvii] Wessells, Child Soldiers, p. 134 and Cecilia Wainryb, “‘And So They Ordered Me to Kill a Person:’ Conceptualizing the Impacts of Child Soldiering on the Development of Moral Agency” Human Development 54 (2011): 273-300

[xxxviii] Beah, Long Way Gone, pp. 138-145

[xxxix] Beah, Long Way Gone, p. 140

[xl] Beah, Long Way Gone, p. 138

[xli] Fagan et. al., “Child Soldiers, Executive Functions,” pp. 283-284

[xlii] Beah, Long Way Gone, pp. 154-159

[xliii] Beah, Long Way Gone, p. 160

[xliv] Ibid

[xlv] Litz, “Moral Injury,” p. 696

[xlvi] Nancy Sherman, Afterwar, New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 26

[xlvii] Quoted in Sherman, Afterwar, p. 89

[xlviii] Afterwar, p. 91

[xlix] Afterwar, pp. 26-28


[l] Both Brison and Stauffer discuss the import role that others play in helping victims of violence “remake” themselves. See Susan Brison, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002 and Jill Stauffer, Ethical Loneliness: The Injustice of Not Being Heard, New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

[li] Jonathan Shay, Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, New York: Scribner, 2003, p. 4 (emphasis original).

Krista Thomason
Krista Thomason
Krista K. Thomason is an assistant professor of Philosophy and a member of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Swarthmore College. Her main areas of research are moral psychology, Kant’s practical philosophy, and issues in human rights. Some of her other work appears in Kantian Review, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. You can follow her on Twitter @kkthomason.

“How many newsworthy issues, which should have been the rightful domain of philosophy, have been usurped in recent years by religion, law, and psychology?”

Lee McIntyre

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