Conversation and Deserved Blame

Michael McKenna

in Conversation and Responsibility

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199740031
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918706 | DOI:
Conversation and Deserved Blame

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This chapter is devoted to getting clear on what a desert thesis for blame might come to. A desert thesis for blame, it is argued, need not commit to the proposition that a wrongdoer must be harmed in proportion to the wrong done, or in like manner to the harm she has caused. A minimal desert thesis is proposed according to which it is good that in response to a wrong done, a wrongdoer is harmed, and so it is permissible to harm her. This, however, does not distinguish a desert thesis for blame from a desert thesis for punishment. So what is distinctive of the harm in blaming? Blaming is liable to harm, it is argued, by virtue of the burdens of the conversational engagement with those holding responsible. These burdens impair the blamer's ability to sustain friendships. They impose on her personal freedom, and are emotionally unsettling. Thus, a desert thesis especially suited for blame contends that the harms that it is good for a wrongdoer to undergo are those that are distinctive of blame.

Keywords: desert; deserved blame; non-instrumental value; harm; welfare interests (threatened by blame); punishment; as distinct from; moral responsibility skeptic

Chapter.  10860 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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