Dispassionate Opprobrium

R. Jay Wallace

in Reasons and Recognition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753673
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918829 | DOI:
Dispassionate Opprobrium

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This paper engages critically with the new account of blame that is presented in T. M. Scanlon’s recent work. On Scanlon’s account, blame involves the justified adjustment of an agent’s attitudes in response to actions that impair the agent’s relationship with another party. I argue that this approach fails to capture the distinctive force of moral blame, and also that its emphasis on the impairment of relationships leads to a distorted account of the relational dimension of morality. I develop an alternative account of blame in terms of the reactive sentiments (such as resentment, indignation, and guilt), and show why blame, on the account of it I favor, is an important form of response to actions that offend against moral values. The tendency to blame people for moral wrongs is a way of caring about moral ends that is peculiarly appropriate to the relational character of those ends.

Keywords: blame; resentment; guilt; indignation; sentiments; Scanlon; relationships; morality; friendship

Chapter.  14382 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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