Blame: Its Nature and Norms

ISBN : 9780199860845

D. Justin Coates; Neal A. Tognazzini
336 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jan 2013
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One mark of interpersonal relationships is a tendency to blame. But what precise evaluations and responses constitute blame? Is it most centrally a judgment, or is it an emotion, or something else? Does blame express a demand, or embody a protest, or does it simply mark an impaired relationship? What accounts for its force or sting, and how similar is it to punishment? The essays in this volume explore answers to these (and other) questions about the nature of blame, but they also explore the various norms that govern the propriety of blame. The traditional question is whether anyone ever deserves to be blamed, but the essays here provide a fresh perspective by focusing on blame from the blamer's perspective instead. Is our tendency to blame a vice, something we should work to replace with more humane ways of relating, or does it rather lie at the very heart of a commitment to morality? What can we legitimately expect of each other, and in general, what sort of attitude do would-be blamers need to have in order to have the standing to blame? Hypocritical or self-righteous blame seems objectionable, but why? The contributions to this volume aim to give us a fuller picture of the nature and norms of blame, and more generally of the promises and perils of membership in the human moral community.


Chapter 1: The Contours of Blame
D. Justin Coates and Neal A. Tognazzini
Chapter 2: Moral Blame and Moral Protest
Angela M. Smith
Chapter 3: Wrongdoing and Relationships: The Problem of the Stranger
George Sher
Chapter 4: The Expressive Function of Blame
Christopher Bennett
Chapter 5: Interpreting Blame
T. M. Scanlon
Chapter 6: Blame and Punishment
David Shoemaker
Chapter 7: Directed Blame and Conversation
Michael McKenna
Chapter 8: Taking Demands Out of Blame
Coleen Macnamara
Chapter 9: Civilizing Blame
Victoria McGeer
Chapter 10: Free Will Skepticism, Blame, and Obligation
Derk Pereboom
Chapter 11: Valuing Blame
Christopher Evan Franklin
Chapter 12: Rightness and Responsibility
R. Jay Wallace
Chapter 13: What is an Excuse?
Erin I. Kelly
Chapter 14: The Standing to Blame: A Critique
Macalester Bell
Chapter 15: Standing in Judgment
Gary Watson

About the author: 

D. Justin Coates works on issues in ethics, moral psychology, and the philosophy of action. His publications have appeared in Philosophy Compass, Philosophical Psychology, and Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, among other venues. He is the Law and Philosophy Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. Neal A. Tognazzini works at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics on problems of agency, free will, and moral responsibility. His publications have appeared in Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophy and Public Affairs, among other venues. He is an Assistant Professor at The College of William & Mary.

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