Blame's Warrant

Michael McKenna

in Conversation and Responsibility

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199740031
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918706 | DOI:
Blame's Warrant

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Because blame is liable to harm, some account is needed of its warrant. Without supplementation, the conversational theory is inadequate. The mere meaningfulness of a conversational response to one who is blameworthy is not enough to account for the sense of appropriateness in blaming. Conversational responses need not be liable to harm, but blaming is. So, the conversational theory needs supplementing. One way to do so is without any appeal to desert at all. No mention need be made of it being good that a wrongdoer is harmed. Blaming within the framework of the conversational theory could instead be justified on contractualist grounds. Another alternative is to account for the harm in blaming via non-basic desert. The exposure to the liability of harm on this approach is shown to be warranted due to the value of an arrangement in which persons treat each other with respect by holding one another accountable. Finally, it is possible to embrace a basic desert thesis, since there are good reasons to do so. Thus, while a conversational theory need not commit to a basic desert thesis for blame, it is consistent with one.

Keywords: contractualist justification for blame; T.M. Scanlon; James Lenman; post-institutional desert; basic desert; George Sher

Chapter.  12006 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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