By Charles Foster, Jonathan Herring

This booklet is an attack at the thought that it's empirically actual and legally and philosophically passable to work out people as atomistic entities. It contends that our welfare is inextricably entangled with that of others, and for that reason legislations and ethics, in choosing our greatest pursuits, may still know the vital value of relationality, the functionality of duties, and (even it sounds as if injurious) altruism.

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Example text

In cases of domestic violence and child abuse the abuse is misuse of the intimate sphere. There are three forms of that misuse we wish to emphasise. First: an intimate relationship involves “thick interpersonal trust” (Khodyakov 2007), which involves the disclosing of parts of ourselves (both physical and emotional) that we would normally wish to keep free from others. The kind of openness necessary for intimacy is so extensive that there are particularly strong bonds of trust. The trust involves an obligation not to use the relationship to take advantage of the other person.

The relationship between carer/parent and child is particularly close. No one trusts like a young child—a child lacking the knowledge that trust can be misplaced and that those whom you love can hurt you the most. Both society and the child place on the parent/carer the obligations inherent in this type of trust. Domestic and child abuse can involve the use of information gathered during the relationship so as to personalise the abuse (Attorney-General’s Reference (No 90 of 2009) (2009); Herring 2011).

This is another way of saying that we need not just bodies around us, but real relationships; passionate, committed mutuality. 3 Mirror Neurons In 1990 an Italian neuroscientist, Vittorio Gallese, inserted an electrode into a single neurone in the premotor cortex of a monkey, and connected the electrode to an oscilloscope to monitor the electrical activity in the neurone. Gallese picked up a raisin. To his surprise, an impulse passed through the monkey’s neurone. Why should that be? Then the monkey itself picked up a raisin, and an identical impulse was recorded.

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