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Evasive Self-Deception and Moral Responsibility

            "Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.
             For Adorno, both philosopher and critic, the Holocaust is something that cannot be expressed in any language, even that of poetry. For numerous others both during and after the immeasurable tragedy, the Holocaust remains virtually unimaginable. Even more disconcerting, however, is the extreme number of German participants who simply "evaded acknowledging the fact that the Jews were being deported to their death while the Final Solution was being carried out" (Jones, 79). In the fourth chapter of his Moral Responsibility in the Holocaust, David Jones discusses the nature of self-deception as well as the moral blameworthiness inherent in the actions (or lack thereof) of a significant part of the German populace motivated by feelings of "guilt, shame and responsibility" to engage in "evasive self-deception" during the Holocaust (81). Jones" discussion of "evasive self-deception" is of particular import in an assessment of moral responsibility among individual perpetrators in the Holocaust.
             A logical but by no means obligatory component of moral responsibility, judgmental blame rests upon the simultaneous existence of five basic criteria: the performance of a wrong act, knowledge that the act is wrong, intentionality, voluntary performance and "a bad motive" (Jones, 21). Furthermore, role responsibility, which morally compels "a person to [assume] certain duties by virtue of occupying a social role or position, whether or not the duties are formally defined," suggests that the very lack of performance of a dutiful and ostensibly good act (accompanied by the remaining four criteria) also supplies grounds for judgmental blame (Jones, 27). It is important to note, however, that grounds for judgmental blame exist only if "the social practice in which the role occurs is itself morally bad or unjust" (Jones, 27). In other words, role responsibility is an insufficient tool for determining moral blameworthiness or establishing moral duties without taking into account the larger social context.

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