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A Duty to Remember: Considering POW/MIA as a Case Study in the Ethics of Memory

  • Broadcast in Education
Ethics Talk

Ethics Talk


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In his book "The Ethics of Memory"(Harvard 2004) philosopher Avishai Margalit argues that although we have a duty to remember others, the nature of those duties shifts depending on our specific relationship to “the other”.  We have a duty to remember friends and family, but that duty is weaker and even non-existent if the other is a stranger. In today’s show, we use the issue of Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) to reflect on Margalit’s theory and other moral questions connected to our duties to the Missing, to the dead, and to their families.  The familiar POW/MIA flag (created during the Vietnam War) states "You are Not Forgotten," betokening a moral duty to remember. September 18, 2020 was National POW/MIA Recognition Day and this show is the first in a series in which we engage in an extended discussion of Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) and their families.  Joining us is documentary filmmaker Kevyn Settle who has done extensive research on the POW/MIA issue and has recently made a moving film, Fruits of Peace, that includes the story of how the Vietnam War helped shape our Duty to Remember.