Touch on trial: Power and the right to physical affection

Cristina Traina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF THE NEAR-PROHIBITION OF TOUCH IN RElations between unequals, this essay addresses very different questions: When do more-powerful people owe touch to less-powerful people as a consequence of their moral responsibility to care and nurture? How are we to understand morally the enjoyment that powerful adults receive from such contacts with their charges? This essay draws on psychological literature on touch to argue that touch is a condition of human flourishing. Consequently, in many circumstances (especially the nurture of children) the obligation to care not only permits but requires physical affection. It argues as well that the lines separating required, permitted, and forbidden touch are somewhat culture-dependent but nevertheless can be adjudicated. Finally, it suggests how traditional theologies and ethics of embodiment might support and be developed by these claims, showing that a positive ethic of touch shares the same theological foundations as the existing ethic of protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-34
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of the Society of Christian Ethics
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Touch on trial: Power and the right to physical affection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this