•  
  •  
 

Abstract

How can we, as individuals and as members of religious, educational, and/ or social institutions, more adequately respond to the crises of sexual abuse that have come to light in recent years? This paper will address this question through the philosophical lens of Paul Ricoeur. The argument proposed here is that through Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of testimony, responsibility, and recognition, we can begin to approach, address, and evaluate the crises of sexual abuse we face by grounding our ethical reflections, and actions, within a more robust philosophical framework. Therefore, this paper will proceed as follows. The first three sections will investigate Ricoeur’s writings in order to glean from them three distinct hermeneutical approaches to three different sets of criteria at play in contemporary crises of sexual abuse: first, a hermeneutics of testimony, related to memory and history; second, a hermeneutics of responsibility, related to authority and justice; and, finally, a hermeneutics of recognition, related to forgiveness and forgetting. Insofar as each of these hermeneutical approaches offers us some insight into the problematics underlying crises of sexual abuse, the fourth section will offer an evaluation of these approaches by focusing on the specific case of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The final section will consider possible avenues for resolution of these crises through Ricoeur’s notion of exceptional “states of peace,” at the heart of which lies mutual recognition. My hope is that this contribution provides new avenues for conversation and deliberation, as well as new resources and frameworks for articulating and implementing responsible action in the face of sexual abuse.

References

Associated Press. “Boy Scouts Ordered to Pay Oregon Man Kerry Lewis $18.5M in Sex Abuse Case.” New York Daily News. NYDailyNews.com, 24 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.

Fricker, Miranda. Epistemic Injustice: Power & the Ethics of Knowing. New York City: Oxford UP, 2007. Print.

Greisch, Jean. “Testimony and Attestation.” Paul Ricoeur: The Hermeneutics of Action. Ed. Richard Kearney. London: Sage, 1996. Print.

Hamilton, Marci. Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children. New York City: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.

Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe. Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church. Boston: Back Bay, 2003. Print.

Kearney, Richard. On Paul Ricoeur: The Owl of Minerva. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. Print.

McGreal, Chris. “Sexual Abuse Scandal Rocks Boy Scouts of America after $18.5M Payout.” Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 May 2013.

Pellauer, David. Ricoeur: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2007. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. The Course of Recognition. Trans. David Pellauer. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2005. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative and Imagination. Ed. Mark I. Wallace, Trans. David Pellauer. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. The Just. Trans. David Pellauer. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. Memory, History, Forgetting. Trans. Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. Oneself as Another. Trans. Kathleen Blamey. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992. Print.

Ricoeur, Paul. Reflections on The Just. Trans. David Pellauer. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007. Print.

“Spotlight Investigation: Abuse in the Catholic Church.” The Boston Globe. New York Times, 2004. Web. 29 May 2013.

“Times Topics: Penn State (Sandusky Sex Abuse Scandal).” New York Times. New York Times, 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.

Wood, David. On Paul Ricoeur: Narrative and Interpretation. London: Routledge, 1991. Print.

First Page

81

Last Page

98

Language

eng

Share

COinS