Normative Dimensions of Indignation

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The research project “Normative Dimensions of Indignation” of Prof. Dr. Anne Reichold (head) and Dr. Carina Pape is located at the Department of Philosophy, Europa-Universität Flensburg. The project considers the political dimensions of indignation as a reaction to an experienced violation of norms. We focus on the analysis of the conceptual and normative structure of expressions of indignation. Through such explication they become accessible for valuation and critique. Embedded in the normative structure’s analysis the project explicates indignation’s capability of social transformation, but also its limitations. We take into consideration European protest movements, European reappraisal processes, social transformations, and other reactions to experienced wrongs and illustrate the transformational potential as well as the limitations of indignation with European and non-European case studies. Expressions of indignation are not limited to an institutional setting – they can take place in kitchens, schools, universities, on the street, or in parliament. Public expressions of indignation therefor may be a social corrective which arouses and increases debates of society and spreads them through the media. Scattered expressions of indignation concerning unjust conditions, missing normative standards, or exclusions can be the starting point of social movements, as happened increasingly in Europe in the past years. One might think of the Spanish indignados or the Russian protest against election fraud. On both sides indignation was used by the protesters and the ones they protested against equally. The European and non-European case studies serve to challenge the idea of Europe and also to explicate the limitations of indignation and normative critique and their potential for social transformation. Which normative and social structures are mandatory to realize expressions of indignation? Which other normative concepts like “dignity” or “honor” are mandatory for indignation? Which alternatives exist to name wrongs and how are they related to the reactive attitude of indignation? In which way is the political and normative idea of Europe characterized by the normative grounds of public indignation, the socially accepted norms, and the reactive attitudes we experience in cases of disappointment? Is there a specific European discourse of indignation and in which way can we reconstruct universally valid norms?

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Pussy Riot on the Red Square, Moscow. The place the activists stand upon is the historical Place of Execution.