Commemoration, Militarism, and Gratitude

The Journal of Ethics:1-20 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Recent years have seen various forms of honorific public art – statues, monuments, and the like – brought under renewed moral scrutiny. This scrutiny has resulted in some high-profile removals, some defacement and additional contextualization to augment existing objects, and some cases of the status quo prevailing. Scholarly treatment of the issues has similarly resulted in arguments that articulate competing values that support removal, modification or preservation. I bring the insights of these arguments to bear on specifically military commemorations, where I argue that they have ample application, but where they do not exhaust the moral complexity to be confronted. This is true first because military commemoration introduces a novel moral concern of militarism, and second because military commemoration frequently has a distinctively normative function of expressing gratitude. Both these points are most powerfully observed in collections of commemorations, rather than individual monuments, a distinction that deepens ongoing discussions about problematic commemorations.

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Kyle Fruh
Duke Kunshan University

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References found in this work

Oppressive Things.Shen-yi Liao & Bryce Huebner - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):92-113.
Vandalizing Tainted Commemorations.Chong-Ming Lim - 2020 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 48 (2):185-216.
Commemoration and Emotional Imperialism.Alfred Archer & Benjamin Matheson - 2022 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 39 (5):761-777.
The Duty to Remove Statues of Wrongdoers.Helen Frowe - 2019 - Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (3):1-31.

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