UCL Uncovering Politics

Taking Offence

Episode Summary

This week we are looking at taking offence. What is it? Can it be a good thing? And can it also go too far?

Episode Notes

It’s sometimes said that we’re living through an epidemic of taking offence. We have become hyper-sensitive, the story goes, to any slight against our sense of self-worth. And a generation of so-called ‘snowflakes’ are told they just need to relax a little. 

But what does it actually mean to take offence? How does feeling offended fit in alongside all the other emotions that our social interactions might invoke, such as anger, indignation, or contempt? Is taking offence really such a bad thing – or might it, at least in some circumstances, actually have positive value?

Well the person who has thought about such questions more deeply than anyone else is Dr Emily McTernan, Associate Professor in Political Theory in the UCL Department of Political Science. Emily is currently finishing a book to be published by Oxford University Press called On Taking Offence, and last year a version of the first chapter was published in article form in one of the top political philosophy journals.

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