Shame, Violence, and Morality

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (1):1-24 (2014)
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Abstract

Shame is most frequently defined as the emotion we feel when we fail to live up to standards, norms, or ideals. I argue that this definition is flawed because it cannot explain some of the most paradigmatic features of shame. Agents often respond to shame with violence, but if shame is the painful feeling of failing to live up to an ideal, this response is unintelligible. I offer a new account of shame that can explain the link between shame and violence. On my view, shame arises out of a tension between our identity and our self-conception: those things about which we feel shame are part of our identities, but they are not part of our self-conception. I conclude by arguing that this account of shame is a valuable moral emotion

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Krista Thomason
Swarthmore College

Citations of this work

The Moral Risks of Online Shaming.Krista Thomason - 2021 - In Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Defensive over Climate Change? Climate Shame as a Method of Moral Cultivation.Elisa Aaltola - 2021 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (1):1-23.
Shame and the Scope of Moral Accountability.Shawn Tinghao Wang - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):544-564.
Shame, Vulnerability, and Change.Jing Iris Hu - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (2):373-390.
Exposed: On Shame and Nakedness.Fredrik Westerlund - 2023 - Philosophia 51 (4):2195-2223.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Wise choices, apt feelings: a theory of normative judgment.Allan Gibbard - 1990 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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