Institutional cruelty

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Institutional cruelty is a model developed by Philip Hallie, who believes ethics are rooted in passion and common sense rather than in technical science.

Hallie defines “institutional cruelty” as a persistent pattern of humiliation that endures for years in a community, but the victimizer and the victim find ways to downplay the harm that is being done. Both the victim and the victimizer justify cruel actions based on what they have been led to believe is “actual" inferiority. Hallie argues that cruelty is created by an imbalance of power, or hierarchy. According to his view, the opposite of institutionalized cruelty is freedom from the cruel relationship, not just kindness.

Institutional cruelty demotes individuality. "Commitment [to an institution] that overrides all sentimentality transforms cruelty and destruction into moral nobility, and commitment is the lifeblood of an institution," (Hallie "From Cruelty to Goodness" 7).