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Reasons and RecognitionEssays on the Philosophy of T.M. Scanlon$
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R. Jay Wallace, Rahul Kumar, and Samuel Freeman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753673.001.0001

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Dispassionate Opprobrium

Dispassionate Opprobrium

On Blame and the Reactive Sentiments

(p.348) 15 Dispassionate Opprobrium
Reasons and Recognition

R. Jay Wallace

Oxford University Press

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

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