The Moral Sense of Humanitarian Actors : An empirical exploration
GB : Blackwell Publishing
62 - 80 p.
Humanitarian ethics, Humanitarian actors, Moral culture, Moral sense
This paper examines humanitarianism's moral positioning above private and political interests to save lives and alleviate suffering. It does not aim to assess the legitimacy of this stance, but rather to probe the way in which humanitarian actors relate to this moral dimension in their everyday work. It investigates empirically humanitarian ethics from the perspective of humanitarian actors, drawing on interviews conducted in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2014. As it is exploratory, three key conceptual innovations were required. The first of these is the introduction of the tools developed to consider a neglected reality: humanitarian actors’ ‘moral sense’ vis-à-vis the humanitarian sector's ‘moral culture’. Second, the study shows how the sector's moral culture is structured around the notion of ‘concern for persons in need’. Third, it analyses the way in which the sector and its actors handle the asymmetrical relationships encountered daily. Ultimately this paper seeks to valorise humanitarian actors’ creativity in their common practices and explore potential challenges to it.