Question 5 Judith Butler argues that images of violence have the capacity to awaken what she calls “ethical responsiveness”. What does she mean by this? Why does she claim this? Is her claim convincing?
Observing the values of the code of ethics is of much significance in modern society. Ideally, an individual’s obligation and capability to act ethically upright is considered a fundamental aspect of society’s welfare. Many events are happening in society that compromises an individual’s ethical values. In modern society, there are increased violence-related topics that have exposed more ethical challenges. For instance, media professions are required to observe ethical guidelines when dealing with images of violence. When arriving at the decision to expose images of violence to the public, key pressure always comes from considering the tolerance of viewers and readers. Various forms of violence in society end up raising specific ethical issues. These ethical issues demand ethical responsiveness, which is an essential aspect of pushing for societal well-being. Thus, ethical responsiveness is how an individual responds to an ethical need and improves others’ welfare and pushes for society’s improvement (Horta 2013, pp.71-81). This argument is explained further in Butler’s article, which supports the claims that images of violence have the capacity to awaken ethical responsiveness. As the code of ethics values play a significant role in ensuring that individuals possess ethical responsiveness, it should be noted that this is for the sake of societal wellbeing.
According to Butler (2009), an individual is considered ethically responsive when choosing to put other people’s needs before their own. Attending to others’ suffering also gives a better explanation of what it is to be ethically responsive. With the motives of safeguarding lives and improving societal welfare, humans are expected to respond effectively to other people’s suffering. The twist behind ethical responsiveness helps to define the line between humanization and dehumanization. Obscene images of violence can deter the normal operations of individuals since it tampers with their psychological wellbeing. The fact that images of violence have the capacity to awaken individuals’ ethical responsiveness implies that authorities have to be sensitive enough to objects of scrutiny. In the article, the events of torture are explained by photographers who were involved in capturing the victims’ images. The images were shown in the New York magazine, and the photographers were not given credit for the deed since it said they expose complicity.
A more general claim by Keith, Schwalbe, and Silcock (2006), asserts that there are so many ethics-related questions posed to photographers raised from images of violence. For instance, during the US-led war in Iraq, the images of the dead bodies raised controversial concerns, which might, in turn, cause conflicts among nations. Photographers sometimes give wrong impressions of images, resulting in unending conflicts, especially when there is no ethical responsiveness. Sometimes photographers are left in a state of confusion of whether to expose obscene images or to hide for the sake of peace in a certain country. Countries that are used to rebel might handle the situation differently upon seeing sensitive images of their people. There is a lot that is untold behind the camera, and all this is for individuals’ wellbeing. Exposing disturbing images feeds an individual’s vengeance mind, which might cause an unending war.
A series of events happening in the current world might lead individuals into thinking about how well the media apply the ethical guidelines in the events of violent images. Exposing disturbing images of violence awakens an individual’s responsiveness, mainly by affecting how individuals understand events. Some images influence governments and public opinion (O’Dea, 2015, pp.405-421). Also, photographers are exposed to numerous challenges when shooting images of violence and tragedy. There is a code of ethics that photographers need to observe to make it easier for viewers. It is ethically wrong for photographers to expose disturbing images of individuals, which might wrongly influence individuals’ decisions. Some photographers manipulate images, which ends up giving a deceptive conclusion to people. In order to avoid deceptive judgment, scholars have suggested that images should be published as they are without any form of alteration to avoid raising questions.
Also, in the readings, Butler (2009) supports her argument on the images of violence and ethical responsiveness by relating different ethics decisions faced by photographers in the field. Photographers have always faced with ethics-related challenges when deciding whether and how to record an image of violence. There are many facts behind exposing disturbing images to the media. Displaying images as they are may sometimes help the suffering, which raises ethical questions. Sometimes the photographers would want to risk their lives by exposing the truth to the world. This part leaves most of them in a dilemma. Exposing the truth to the media might bring the public to light and understand what is happening more vividly. So many ethical questions may be raised to counter immoral acts in a country.
Before images of violence are posted or published, editors face ethical challenges on whether to use them or not. In order to inform their decisions, some things must be considered and agreeable, for instance, the role played by the government, the tolerance of the viewers, and questions of privacy. In the US, public opinions are suppressed. Individuals involved in taking images of war or obscene images might even face the consequences of the law.
In conclusion, when arriving at the decision to expose images of violence to the public, key pressure always comes from considering the tolerance of viewers and readers. On the other hand, scholars have remained keen on how much ethical guidelines the media observe when dealing with images of violence. It remains a challenge of whether images should be shown as they are regardless of the situation, but this might subject individuals into turmoil, especially when the images are very obscene. Butler’s claims regarding the images of violence remain convincing and should be highly supported since involving ethical responsiveness means that individuals need to be sensitive enough when approaching tragic events. Exposing disturbing images of violence might tamper with viewers’ mindset or even cause conflicts among different groups in a nation. Therefore, for society’s wellbeing, it is of crucial significance for individuals to act ethically responsive in the face of tragic events.
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