Self-Righteous Sentiment: On Blame and Its Norms
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Achs, Rachel Erica
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CitationAchs, Rachel Erica. 2021. Self-Righteous Sentiment: On Blame and Its Norms. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractWe shouldn’t blame people who aren’t blameworthy. But what is blame and what makes a person worthy of it? And is there really anything to be said for blaming those who do warrant it? I defend the intuitive thought that voluntary wrongdoing makes people blameworthy and then rely on the idea that blaming involves awareness of what makes it warranted in order to build an account of what blame is. Taking my cue from Kant’s account of aesthetic judgment, I propose that blame is constituted by a reflexive commitment to its own fittingness on the basis of a particular set of reasons. A person blames when she takes her present way of reacting to be fitting on the bases (i) that the person she blames has done something wrong and (ii) that her present reaction is an instance of the type of reaction that is the fitting way of responding to wrongdoers in our community. This account yields insight into what is valuable about blame. The justificatory commitment involved in blame guides wrongdoers who blame themselves in coming to a deeper understanding of what made their behavior wrongful. Moreover, blame has expressive power in virtue of its enacting a communally recognized norm. Blame expresses recognition of wrongdoing for what it is, and has value derived from the importance of this expression to victims.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368337
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