Many theorists claim that the reactive emotions, even in their private form, are communicative entities. But as widely endorsed as this claim is, it has not been redeemed: the literature lacks a clear and compelling account of the sense in which reactive attitudes qua private mental states are essentially communicative. In this paper, I fill this gap. I propose that it is apt to characterize privately held reactive attitudes as communicative in nature because they, like many paradigmatic forms of communication, (...) have representational content and the function of evoking uptake of this content in a recipient. (shrink)
Many important theorists – e.g., Gary Watson and Stephen Darwall – characterize blame as a communicative entity and argue that this entails that morally responsible agency requires not just rational but moral competence. In this paper, I defend this argument from communication against three objections found in the literature. The first two reject the argument’s characterization of the reactive attitudes. The third urges that the argument is committed to a false claim.
The idea that demands are a key constituent of any analysis of the negative reactive attitudes is rarely challenged, enjoying a freedom from scrutiny uncommon in philosophy. In this paper I press on this orthodox view, arguing that there are broadly speaking, three ways in which the term ‘demand’ is used in discussions of the negative reactive attitudes and that each is problematic.
Theorists have spent considerable time discussing the concept of responsibility. Their discussions, however, have generally focused on the question of who counts as responsible, and for what. But as Gary Watson has noted, “Responsibility is a triadic relationship: an individual (or group) is responsible to others for something” (Watson Agency and answerability: selected essays, 2004 , p. 7). Thus, theorizing about responsibility ought to involve theorizing not just about the actor and her conduct, but also about those the actor is (...) responsible to—and specifically about how these people hold the actor responsible for her conduct. In this paper, I give a topology of the terrain of holding others responsible. Over the course of the paper I disambiguate two very broad senses of holding responsible—regarding another as a responsible agent and holding another responsible for a particular piece of conduct. Next, I argue that the latter sense of holding responsible is a genus with two species—what I will call “holding responsible as deep moral appraisal” and “holding responsible as accountability.” Appreciating these distinctions, I argue, sheds considerable light on a number of questions concerning the scope and nature of our practices of holding others responsible. Finally, illuminating these distinct senses of holding responsible and highlighting their features reveals an awkwardness in the most carefully explicated and influential account of holding responsible, namely R. Jay Wallace’s account in Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments. (shrink)
If I do you a good turn, you may respond with gratitude and express that gratitude by saying “Thank you.” Similarly, if I insult you, you may react with resentment which you express by shouting, “Screw you!” or something of the sort. Broadly put, when confronted with another’s morally significant conduct, we are inclined to respond with a reactive attitude and to express that reactive attitude in speech. A number of familiar speech acts have a call-and-response structure. Questions, demands and (...) hails are all call-types, and each seeks a defining response. Questions seek answers, demands seek compliance, and a hail, for example, “Hi Coleen” seeks a “Hi” in return. Many theorists claim that expressions of the reactive attitudes also have this structure. Yet, this insight raises a number of questions. There are, after all, many familiar call-types, not only questions, demands and hails, but also requests, invitations, recommendations and entreaties. Given this, it is natural to wonder whether the expressed reactive attitudes are a sui generis call-type or whether they can be properly assimilated to one of the better-known forms. Further, we might wonder about the response component. It is utterly familiar that the response suited to a demand is compliance, and that the response sought by a question is an answer, but what response do the expressed reactive attitudes seek? The answer to this question is not similarly ready to hand. In this paper, I provide a recognition-based theory of the call-and-response structure of the expressed reactive attitudes. On my account, both the positive and negative expressed reactive attitudes are modes of recognition that seek for their target to give expression to her recognition of having been appropriately recognized. In the negative case, the target does this by feeling and expressing guilt or remorse, and in the positive case, by feeling and expressing self-approbation. (shrink)
Most moral theorists agree that it is one thing to believe that someone has slighted you and another to resent her for the insult; one thing to believe that someone did you a favor and another to feel gratitude toward her for her kindness. While all of these ways of responding to another's conduct are forms of moral appraisal, the reactive attitudes are said to 'go beyond' beliefs in some way. We think this claim is adequately explained only when we (...) take seriously the fact that reactive attitudes are emotions. In this paper, we appeal to insights of the emotions literature to highlight one key way in which reactive attitudes go beyond beliefs: beliefs about a person and her morally significant conduct merely ascribe to the person the property of having performed a morally significant action, while reactive attitudes are ways of experiencing that person as having performed a morally significant action. We then suggest that appreciating this is a crucial first step toward understanding why reactive emotions play roles in our practices around responsibility that beliefs do not. (shrink)
Desert-realists maintain that those who do wrong without an excuse deserve blame. Desert-skeptics deny this, holding that though we may be responsible for our actions in some sense, we lack the kind of responsibility needed to deserve blame. In two recent papers, Randolph Clarke advances an innovative defense of desert-realism. He argues for deserved-guilt, the thesis that the guilty deserve to feel guilt. In his 2013 paper, Clarke suggests two strategies for defending deserved-guilt: the fitting-guilt strategy and the good-guilt strategy. (...) In his 2016 paper, Clarke issues a challenge to the desert-skeptic: he calls on them to provide a non-desert based account of guilt’s fittingness. In the first two thirds of the paper, I respond to Clarke’s challenge to the desert-skeptic, showing that guilt felt by the guilty is alethic-fitting, reason-fitting, and value-fitting. None of these notions of fittingness, I argue, are desert based. In the last third of the paper, I show how the work done in previous sections affords us the tools to finely diagnose the failures of both the fitting-guilt and the good-guilt strategies. Here, I draw on one of Clarke’s own insights—namely, that desert is intimately connected to the value of justice. I propose that showing that guilt is fitting, or again non-instrumentally good, fails to show that it is deserved because to show that it is deserved one must show that guilt is fitting or good in a sense that implicates justice. (shrink)