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Dehumanization; A normative definition and a case study on the 'Pacific Solution 11'

Kay, Rebecca (2020) Dehumanization; A normative definition and a case study on the 'Pacific Solution 11'. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Dehumanisation has the potential to be a thick normative tool that can then be applied to prevent moral relativism, by establishing a universal standard of morality. The significance of this is lost within moral philosophy with definitions of dehumanisation both few and rarely agreed upon. To address this, my research aims to create and apply dehumanization as a normative tool. In chapter 1, I will discuss and evaluate the philosophical definitions of dehumanization that feature within the literature. From this process, I shall also offer a list definition of dehumanization, incorporating components that emerge from this evaluative discussion. The list definition of dehumanization will comprise five different outcomes (three regarding action and two language) that are considered dehumanizing when applied upon an individual or group. To demonstrate the applicability of dehumanization as a normative tool, this list definition was used in a case study. This case study will focus on the Australian governments' treatment of non-documented asylum-seekers that arrive in Australia by boat. This issue has been highly politicised, with criticism suggesting asylum-seekers are dehumanized by the Australian government. To neutrally examine what can be considered government treatment, I have chosen to focus on non-document asylum-seeker policy and its consequences. Chapter 2 examines the policy design of the 'Pacific Solution II' and its rhetoric in relation to asylum-seekers. Whilst, chapter 3 considers the observed consequences for asylum-seekers from the implementation of the 'Pacific Solution II'. Through this case study I found no instances of dehumanizing language, but found instances of dehumanizing action. Dehumanizing outcomes regarding action were identified in both the policy's design and in the consequences of its implementation. These dehumanizing actions included: undermining the needs to maintain basic human flourishing, undermining the autonomy of a group or individual without benefiting their interests and alienation of the embodied experience.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Supervisor(s): Schwenkenbecher, Anne
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