The Scope of Justice for Muslim Americans: Moral Exclusion in the Aftermath of 9/11

By Coryn, Chris L.; Borshuk, Catherine | The Qualitative Report, September 2006 | Go to article overview

The Scope of Justice for Muslim Americans: Moral Exclusion in the Aftermath of 9/11


Coryn, Chris L., Borshuk, Catherine, The Qualitative Report


This paper details a social psychological study of prejudice and moral exclusion. We investigated whether participants, 47 non-Muslim U.S. citizens enrolled at a Midwestern university, considered Muslim Americans to be within their scope of justice, and whether principles of fairness, restitution, and corrective intervention would be applied to a stimulus Muslim family. Only about one-third of the sample indicated that the Muslim family fell within their scope of justice. Open-ended responses yielded three patterns: (1) threat and revenge toward the out-group; (2) concern with the rights of out-group members; and (3) disconnection from the out-group, along with ambivalence about justice issues. Although explicitly racist statements were detected, so too was a recognition of common humanity with out-group members. Key Words: Moral Exclusion, Scope of Justice, Group Categorization, and Muslim Americans

**********

Very often, justice considerations are extended only to particular categories, or groups of individuals, and our personal rules about fairness apply only to those within our scope of justice or moral community. How we decide who falls within or outside of this moral community is frequently determined by the same processes by which we form into social identity categories (Tajfel & Turner, 1985): That is, those with whom we most identify constitute our moral community, while we neglect to apply similar rules regarding fairness to social out-group members.

Group membership, therefore, has serious implications for the extension of justice. Perceptions of in-group and out-group boundaries can and do influence decisions regarding who we consider worthy of fair treatment, on whose behalf we might agitate politically, and to whom our attention is drawn when obvious inequality occurs. Numerous individuals have, at one time or another, been denied human or civil rights because they have fallen outside of mainstream society's moral community: slaves; children; women; racial, religious and sexual minorities; the poor; the disabled; and the mentally ill to name but a few. Members of such groups have suffered, or continue to suffer, from the denial of social or legal justice. In short, the social and historical arrangements of power and inequality have tended to mirror decisions about inclusion in and exclusion from the moral community in the United States and elsewhere.

Deutsch (1985) defined the scope of justice as "the psychological boundary of one's moral community; a narrow conception of community that results in a constricted scope of situations in which considerations of justice govern one's conduct" (p. 62). Distributive justice, including our decisions about whether resources are allocated fairly, the procedures by which we believe fairness is achieved, and punishments and rewards we believe others are entitled to, is defined or limited psychologically to this narrow community. Denial of membership in this moral community may result in the tyranny of the more powerful over the less powerful, and may signal the sanctioning of abuse of outgroup members (Tyler, Boeckmann, Smith, & Huo, 1997).

The boundary of a moral community is not constant, but is subject to change based on historical and social forces. Staub (1989), through case studies of mass genocide and extreme harm doing, concluded that conditions such as economic hardship, political upheaval, war, violence, and rapid changes in culture and society lead to a restricted scope of justice, and a narrowed moral community. These conditions threaten people's sense of self, security, and well-being, and serve to justify the moral exclusion or even harm of marginalized social groups.

The Theory of Moral Exclusion

Opotow's (1990b) theory of moral exclusion states that causing or allowing harm to those outside of one's moral community is justified and rationalized on the premise that they are viewed as expendable, undeserving, exploitable, and irrelevant. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Scope of Justice for Muslim Americans: Moral Exclusion in the Aftermath of 9/11
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.