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Punishment and the Moral EmotionsEssays in Law, Morality, and Religion$
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Jeffrie G. Murphy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199764396

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199764396.001.0001

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Moral Epistemology, the Retributive Emotions, and the “Clumsy Moral Philosophy” of Jesus Christ

Moral Epistemology, the Retributive Emotions, and the “Clumsy Moral Philosophy” of Jesus Christ

Chapter:
(p.21) Chapter 2 Moral Epistemology, the Retributive Emotions, and the “Clumsy Moral Philosophy” of Jesus Christ
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Punishment and the Moral Emotions
Author(s):

Jeffrie G. Murphy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199764396.003.0002

This chapter refutes Michael Moore's moral epistemology as the counter to what Nietzsche calls ressentiment—a word encompassing the base passions, such as malice, spite, and envy. Nietzsche argues that retributive justice is often based on this ressentiment rather than any morally good motivations. Instead of guilt, the author recommends a moral humility—rather than the rational guilt suggested by Moore—founded upon the ideas of human evil as set forth by Jesus and Kant. In punishing evil, we must seek to recognize our own evil and potential for evil, and seek to better our moral lives and exercise caution when passing judgment. The institution of punishment is regrettably all too human and fallible—there is a danger in acting upon grand delusions of good and evil.

Keywords:   Nietzsche, ressentiment, moral epistemology, base passions, moral humility, Jesus, Kant, punishment, human evil, rational guilt

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