An apology for moral shame

Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2):127–146 (2004)
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Making a place for shame in the mature moral agent’s psychology would seem to depend on reconciling the agent’s vulnerability to shame with her capacity for autonomous judgment. The standard strategy is to argue that mature agents are only shamed before themselves or before those whose evaluative judgments mirror their own. Because this strategy forces us to discount as irrational or immature many everyday experiences of shame, including the shame felt by members of subordinate groups, this chapter argues that shame does not depend on endorsing the shamer’s criticism. Moral criticism has “practical weight” for us and the power to shame when it is seen as issuing from those who are to be taken seriously because they are co-participants with us in a shared social practice of morality. Thus shame is a social emotion.



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Cheshire Calhoun
Arizona State University

Citations of this work

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