The Burden of Political Resistance

Lisa Tessman

in Burdened Virtues

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780195179149
Published online October 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835782 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

  The Burden of Political Resistance

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This chapter examines the way that liberatory movements—including both feminist movements and Black liberation movements—offer praise for their best members, holding them up to model the character traits that enable political resistance. This praise appears strange given a eudaimonistic ethics in which character traits that are morally praiseworthy are usually conducive to or constitutive of flourishing, for the character traits recommended for resistance often disable resisters themselves from flourishing. Based on Aristotle’s discussion of “mixed actions,” a description is given of the political resister as displaying “mixed traits” that are routinely unlinked from flourishing and thereby burdened. The problematic traits of the politically resistant self include those such as anger that contribute to maintaining a hard resolve against the oppressors, those such as courage that help resisters take risks and accept loss and sacrifice, and those that resisters must display in their relationships with one another, such as loyalty coupled with an openness to criticism and self-criticism. The chapter includes an extended analysis of one of these questionable virtues, namely anger.

Keywords: feminism; Black liberation; political resistance; eudaimonism; flourishing; Aristotle; burden; anger; courage; loyalty

Chapter.  11120 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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