SUSAN OPOTOW received her Ph.D. in social psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1987. She has remained there as a Research Associate, currently conducting research on subtle instances of moral exclusion that occur in adolescents' interpersonal conflicts with peers.
Moral Exclusion and Injustice: An Introduction
Version of Record online: 14 APR 2010
1990 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 46, Issue 1, pages 1–20, Spring 1990
How to Cite
Opotow, S. (1990), Moral Exclusion and Injustice: An Introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 46: 1–20. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1990.tb00268.x
- Issue online: 14 APR 2010
- Version of Record online: 14 APR 2010
Moral exclusion occurs when individuals or groups are perceived as outside the boundary in which moral values, rules, and considerations of fairness apply. Those who are morally excluded are perceived as nonentities, expendable, or undeserving. Consequently, harming or exploiting them appears to be appropriate, acceptable, or just. This broad definition encompasses both severe and mild forms of moral exclusion, from genocide to discrimination. The paper discusses the antecedents and symptoms of moral exclusion, and the interaction between the psychological and social factors that foster its development. Empirical research on moral exclusion is needed to pinpoint its causes, to predict its progression, and to effect change in social issues that involve the removal of victims from our moral communities. The last section of the paper introduces the articles that follow.