This paper outlines a philosophical model of a deviant sense of personal justification. The model originates in German Idealism, and presents an attitude which occurs when dominators find a way of feeling justified in their domination, because the very action of wilfully imposing it constitutes a form of personal worthiness making them superior to those who fail to resist them. Having judged themselves superior, they then take themselves to deserve the status and benefits they have appropriated. The paper draws out and describes the attitude’s ‘logic’ and its various dimensions, and argues that despite its unreasonable claims and paradoxical character, it is nonetheless plausible that real people should exhibit it. The paper goes on to claim that its presence and operation has an important role to play in explaining human rights abuses, and offers an interpretation of the atrocities of Nazism to illustrate this. It thereby aims both to further vindicate the general model and analysis, and to provide an additional perspective on these events.
- German Idealism