Joint Straus/Tikvah FEllow
Academic Year 2012-2013
Avishai Margalit is one of the foremost thinkers and commentators on the contemporary human condition, the moral issues of our time, and current problems facing Western societies. In addition to his influence as a philosopher, he is highly regarded for his profound and cogent observations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader struggle between Islam and the West. As the author of Idolatry (with Moshe Halbertal, 1992), The Decent Society (1996), Views in Review: Politics and Culture in the State of the Jews (1998), The Ethics of Memory (2002), Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (with Ian Buruma, 2004), and On Compromise and Rotten Compromises (2009), Margalit has transformed philosophical perspectives on a range of political and societal issues.
The research is focused on the normative aspect of betrayal – moral and legal. It does however, pay attention to the psychological motivations for betraying others. It revolves around historical examples; the Benedict Arnolds of the world, but it is also informed by fictional plays and novels from Euripides to Pinter.
The research deals with various notions of betrayal: Political (military), such as treason and collaboration, religious betrayal such as idolatry and apostasy, class betrayal and personal betrayal, such as infidelity, and affinity scam of the Madoff kind. The research deals with the contrasting notions to betrayal, especially; loyalty and trust.
The main thrust of the research is to examine betrayal in the light (or the shadow, as the case maybe), of the distinction between ethics and morality: ethics guides our thick relations; relations as family and friends, morality guides our thin relations; relations to strangers.
Betrayal undermines thick relations. The research, the product of which is meant to be a full length book, deals with the meaning and the implications of undermining thick relations.