Rank Offence: The Ecological Theory of Resentment

Mind 130 (520):1233-1251 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


I argue that fitting resentment tracks unacceptable ‘ecological’ imbalances in relative social strength between victims and perpetrators that arise from violations of legitimate moral expectations. It does not respond purely, or even primarily, to offenders’ attitudes, and its proper targets need not be fully developed moral agents. It characteristically involves a wish for the restoration of social equilibrium rather than a demand for moral recognition or good will. To illuminate these contentions, I focus on cases that I believe demonstrate a corollary thesis, namely, that strength, broadly construed, is a necessary condition of resentment-worthiness. I argue that weakness can make resentment unfitting in two ways. First, weakness may prevent a wrongdoer from shifting the balance of social power. Second, a weak wrongdoer may do social damage but be so lowly that resentment, which would represent him as excessively strong, would be inapt. Finally, I consider how accepting the ecological view might affect our theorizing about moral responsibility and the ethics of blame.

Similar books and articles

Collective Resentment.Katie Stockdale - 2013 - Social Theory and Practice 39 (3):501-521.
Revaluing envy and resentment.Marguerite La Caze - 2002 - Philosophical Explorations 5 (2):155 – 158.
Unreasonable Resentments.Alice MacLachlan - 2010 - Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (4):422-441.
Forgiveness, resentment, and intentional agency.Anthony Marc Williams - 2011 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 19 (1):1-12.
Modification of the Reactive Attitudes.David Goldman - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1):1-22.
Arendt on Resentment: Articulating Intersubjectivity.Grace Hunt - 2015 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 29 (3):283-290.
Articulate forgiveness and normative constraints.Brandon Warmke - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):1-25.
Virtues of Resentment.Rae Langton - 2001 - Utilitas 13 (2):255.
Tragedy and Resentment.Carlsson Ulrika - 2018 - Mind 127 (508):1169-1191.
Moral Rebukes and Social Avoidance.Linda Radzik - 2014 - Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (4):643-661.


Added to PP

216 (#59,010)

6 months
98 (#8,890)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Samuel Reis-Dennis
Rice University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Responsibility From the Margins.David Shoemaker - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
1. Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - In John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (eds.), Perspectives on Moral Responsibility. Cornell University Press. pp. 1-25.

View all 17 references / Add more references