Claudia Blöser has recently proposed that Kant’s duty to be forgiving is grounded on the need to be relieved from the burden of our moral guilt, a need we have in virtue of our morally fallible nature, irrespectively of whether we have repented. I argue that Blöser's proposal does not fit well with certain central aspects of Kant’s views on moral guilt. For Kant, moral guilt is a complex phenomenon, that has both an intellectual and an affective (...) aspect. I argue that it is not even possible for us to fully overcome our intellectual guilt, and to the extent that it is possible to ameliorate our felt guilt, this is largely a matter of self-forgiveness. However, self-forgiveness is only appropriate when there is repentance for the wrongful action and rejection of its underlying immoral maxim by the wrongdoer as part of a project of moral transformation. I offer an alternative account of the human need for forgiveness, an account that makes forgiveness conditional on repentance. (shrink)
Whereas Christians often give guilt a prominent role, Buddhists are encouraged not to dwell on feelings of guilt. Leading members of the Triratna organisation – Sangharakshita, Subhuti and Subhadramati – characterise guilt as a negative emotion that hinders spiritual growth. However, if we carefully examine the concept of guilt in the manner of Wittgenstein we find that the accounts of guilt given by leading members of Triratna mischaracterise it and so ignore its positive aspects. They (...) should acknowledge the valuable role that guilt can play in our lives. (shrink)
This discussion of pride, shame, and guilt centers on the beliefs involved in the experience of any of these emotions. Through a detailed study, the author demonstrates how these beliefs are alike--in that they are all directed towards the self--and how they differ. The experience of these three emotions are illustrated by examples taken from English literature. These concrete cases supply a context for study and indicate the complexity of the situations in which these emotions usually occur.
Recent evolutionary perspectives on guilt tend to focus on how guilt functions as a means for the individual to self-regulate behavior and as a mechanism for reinforcing cooperative tendencies. While these accounts highlight important dimensions of guilt and provide important insights into its evolutionary emergence, they pay scant attention to the large empirical literature on its maladaptive effects on individuals. This paper considers the nature of guilt, explores its biological function, and provides an evolutionary perspective on (...) whether it is an individual-level or group selected trait. After surveying philosophical and psychological analyses of guilt, we consider which psychological mechanisms underlie the capacity to experience and act from guilt and whether they point to an emergence of guilt in early humans or to guilt having a longer phylogenetic history. Because guilt is a characteristically social emotion, we then examine its contemporary role in social and legal contexts, which may p... (shrink)
Among other things, this paper considers what so-called collective guilt feelings amount to. If collective guilt feelings are sometimes appropriate, it must be the case that collectives can indeed be guilty. The paper begins with an account of what it is for a collective to intend to do something and to act in light of that intention. An account of collective guilt in terms of membership guilt feelings is found wanting. Finally, a "plural subject" account of (...) collective guilt feelings is articulated, such that they involve a joint commitment to feel guilt as a body. (shrink)
The connection between shame, guilt and morality is the topic of many recent debates. A broad tendency consists in attributing a higher moral status and a greater moral relevance to guilt, a claim motivated by arguments that tap into various areas of morality and moral psychology. The Pro-social Argument has it that guilt is, contrary to shame, morally good since it promotes pro-social behaviour. Three other arguments claim that only guilt has the requisite connection to central (...) moral concepts: the Responsibility Argument appeals to the ties between guilt and responsibility, the Autonomy Argument to the heteronomy of shame and the Social Argument to shame's link with reputation. In this paper, we scrutinize these arguments and argue that they cannot support the conclusion that they try to establish. We conclude that a narrow focus on particular criteria and a misconception of shame and guilt have obscured the important roles shame plays in our moral lives. (shrink)
P.S. Greenspan uses the treatment of moral dilemmas as the basis for an alternative view of the structure of ethics and its relation to human psychology. In its treatment of the role of emotion in ethics the argument of the book outlines a new way of packing motivational force into moral meaning that allows for a socially based version of moral realism.
:In this essay, I consider a particular version of the thesis that the blameworthy deserve to suffer, namely, that they deserve to feel guilty to the proper degree. Two further theses have been thought to explicate and support the thesis, one that appeals to the non-instrumental goodness of the blameworthy receiving what they deserve, and the other that appeals to the idea that being blameworthy provides reason to promote the blameworthy receiving what they deserve. I call the first "Good-Guilt" (...) and the second "Reason-Guilt.” I begin by exploring what I take to be the strongest argument for Good-Guilt which gains force from a comparison of guilt and grief, and the strongest argument against. I conclude that Good-Guilt might be true, but that even if it is, the strongest argument in favor of it fails to support it in a way that provides reason for the thesis that the blameworthy deserve to feel guilty. I then consider the hypothesis that Reason-Guilt might be true and might be the more fundamental principle, supporting both Good-Guilt and Desert-Guilt. I argue that it does not succeed, however, and instead propose a different principle, according to which being blameworthy does not by itself provide reason for promoting that the blameworthy get what they deserve, but that being blameworthy systematically does so in conjunction with particular kinds of background circumstances. Finally, I conclude that Desert-Guilt might yet be true, but that it does not clearly gain support from either Good-Guilt or Reason-Guilt. (shrink)
Research has paid scant attention to reparative behavior to compensate for unintended wrongdoing or to the role of emotions in doing the right thing. We propose a new approach to investigating reparative behavior by looking at moral emotions and psychological proximity. In this study, we compare the effects of moral emotions (guilt and shame) on the level of compensation for financial harm. We also investigate the role of transgressors’ perceived psychological proximity to the victims of wrongdoing. Our hypotheses were (...) tested through a scenario based questionnaire on a sample of 261 participants. Analyses indicate that (1) guilt has a stronger effect on the level of compensation than shame; (2) psychological proximity influences the level of guilt, shame, and compensation; and (3) shame interacts with psychological proximity to predict compensation, whereas guilt mediates the relationship between psychological proximity and compensation. (shrink)
Central cases of moral blame suggest that blame presupposes that its target deserves to feel guilty, and that if one is blameworthy to some degree, one deserves to feel guilt to a corresponding degree. This, some think, is what explains why being blameworthy for something presupposes having had a strong kind of control over it: only given such control is the suffering involved in feeling guilt deserved. This chapter argues that all this is wrong. As evidenced by a (...) wider range of cases, blame doesn’t presuppose that the target deserves to feel guilt and doesn’t necessarily aim at the target’s suffering in recognition of what they have done. On the constructive side, the chapter offers an explanation of why, in many cases of moral blameworthiness, the agent nevertheless does deserve to feel guilt. The explanation leans on a general account of moral and non-moral blame and blameworthiness and a version of the popular idea that moral blame targets agents’ objectionable quality of will. Given the latter idea, the morally blameworthy have harmed the standing of some person or value, giving rise to obligations to give correspondingly less relative weight to their own standing, and so, sometimes, to their own suffering. (shrink)
It is generally maintained that emotions consist of intentional states and /or bodily feelings. This paper offers a phenomenological analysis of guilt in severe depression, in order to illustrate how such conceptions fail to adequately accommodate a way in which some emotional experiences are said to be deeper than others. Many emotions are intentional states. However, I propose that the deepest emotions are not intentional but pre-intentional, meaning that they determine which kinds of intentional state are possible. I go (...) on to suggest that pre-intentional emotions are at the same time feelings. In so doing, I reject the distinction that is often made between bodily feelings and the world-oriented aspects of emotion. (shrink)
A dominant view of guilt and shame is that they have opposing action tendencies: guilt- prone people are more likely to avoid or overcome dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, making amends for past misdoings, whereas shame-prone people are more likely to persist in dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, avoiding responsibility for past misdoings and/or lashing out in defensive aggression. Some have suggested that addiction treatment should make use of these insights, tailoring therapy according to people’s degree of guilt-proneness versus (...) shame-proneness. In this paper, we challenge this dominant view, reviewing empirical findings from others as well as our own to question (1) whether shame and guilt can be so easily disentangled in the experience of people with addiction, and (2) whether shame and guilt have the opposing action tendencies standardly attributed to them. We recommend a shift in theoretical perspective that explains our main finding that both emotions can be either destructive or constructive for recovery, depending on how these emotions are managed. We argue such management depends in turn on a person’s quality of self-blame (retributive or ‘scaffolding’), impacting upon their attitude towards their own agency as someone with fixed and unchanging dispositions (shame and guilt destructive for recovery) or as someone capable of changing themselves (shame and guilt productive for recovery). With an eye to therapeutic intervention, we then explore how this shift in attitude towards the self can be accomplished. Specifically, we discuss empathy-driven affective and narratively-driven cognitive components of a process that allow individuals to move away from the register of retributive self-blame into a register of scaffolding ‘reproach’, thereby enabling them to manage their experiences of both shame and guilt in a more generative way. (shrink)
Mysticism and Guilt-Consciousness in Schelling's Philosophical Development was Paul Tillich's 1912 dissertation for the licentiate in theology from the University of Halle. He published it the same year and it reappears in the first volume of Tillich's collected works in German.
The article focuses on prosecutor's fallacy and interrogator's fallacy, the two kinds of reasoning in inferring a suspect's guilt. The prosecutor's fallacy is a combination of two conditional probabilities that lead to unfortunate commission of error in the process due to the inclination of the prosecutor in the establishment of strong evidence that will indict the defendant. It provides a comprehensive discussion of Gerd Gigerenzer's discourse on a criminal case in Germany explaining the perils of prosecutor's fallacy in his (...) application of probability to practical problems. It also discusses the interrogator's fallacy which was introduced by Robert A. J. Matthews as the error on the assumption that confessional evidence can never reduce the probability of guilt. (shrink)
This is the first study of guilt from a wide variety of perspectives: psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, evolutionary psychology, anthropology, six major religions, four key moral philosophers, and the law. Katchadourian explores the ways in which guilt functions within individual lives and intimate relationships, looking at behaviors that typically induce guilt in both historical and modern contexts. He examines how the capacity for moral judgments develops within individuals and through evolutionary processes. He then turns to the socio-cultural aspects (...) of guilt and addresses society's attempts to come to terms with guilt as culpability through the legal process. This personal work draws from, and integrates, material from extensive primary and secondary literature. Through the extensive use of literary and personal accounts, it provides an intimate picture of what it is like to experience this universal emotion. Written in clear and engaging prose, with a touch of humor, _Guilt_ should appeal to a wide audience. (shrink)
It is often assumed that we are only blameworthy for that over which we have control. In recent years, however, several philosophers have argued that we can be blameworthy for occurrences that appear to be outside our control, such as attitudes, beliefs and omissions. This has prompted the question of why control should be a condition on blameworthiness. This paper aims at defending the control condition by developing a new conception of blameworthiness: To be blameworthy, I argue, is most fundamentally (...) to deserve to feel guilty. Being blamed by someone else is not necessarily harmful to the wrongdoer. The blame might not be expressed, or the wrongdoer might not care. But to blame oneself necessarily involves suffering. This conception of blameworthiness explains why the control condition should obtain: We are morally blameworthy for A only if A was under our control because to be blameworthy is to deserve to feel guilty, to feel guilty is to suffer, and one deserves to suffer for A only if A was under one’s control. (shrink)
Discusses three concepts crucial to an understanding of the nature of religion: anxiety, guilt, and freedom. The various essays examine these from the viewpoint of several different religious traditions, movements and thinkers. Contents: Editor's Preface. Donald Gard: A Personal Perspective. Part I. Guiltless Morality; The Family of Changing Woman: Nature and Women in Navaho Thought; The Sacraments as 'Fear-provoking' and 'Awe-inspiring' Rites in the Greek Fathers; The Doctrine of Karma; Two Concepts of Predestination in Current Islamic Thought. Part II. (...) The Spirit of Medieval Penitents; The Evolution of Freedom as Catholicity in Catholic Ethics; Agape and the Liberation Movements. Part III. Calvin's Idea of Freedom in the Ethics of Schleiermacher and Barth; Creativity and Freedom in the Thought of Martin Buber; The Liberating Visions of C. G. Jung; 'The World's Most Perverse Habit'; Appendix: Study Questions. (shrink)
How do psychoanalysts explain human morality? _Guilt and Its Vicissitudes: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Morality_ focuses on the way Melanie Klein and successive generations of her followers pursued and deepened Freud's project of explaining man's moral sense as a wholly natural phenomenon. With the introduction of the superego, Freud laid claim to the study of moral development as part of the psychoanalytic enterprise. At the same time he reconceptualized guilt: he thought of it not only as conscious, but as unconscious (...) as well, and it was the unconscious sense of guilt that became a particular concern of the discipline he was founding. As Klein saw it, his work merely pointed the way. Judith M. Hughes argues that Klein and contemporary Kleinians went on to provide a more consistent and comprehensive psychological account of moral development. Hughes shows how Klein and her followers came to appreciate that moral and cognitive questions are complexly interwoven and makes clear how this complexity prompted them to extend the range of their theory. Hughes demonstrates both a detailed knowledge of the major figures in post-war British psychoanalysis, and a keen sensitivity to the way clinical experience informed theory-building. She writes with vigor and grace, not only about Freud and Klein, but also about such key thinkers as Riviere, Isaacs, Heimann, Segal, Bion and Joseph. _Guilt and Its Vicissitudes_ speaks to those concerned with the clinical application of psychoanalytic theory and to those interested in the contribution psychoanalysis makes to understanding questions of human morality. (shrink)
Olwen Bedford and Kwang-Kuo Hwang, Guilt and Shame in Chinese Culture: A Cross-cultural Framework from the Perspective of Morality and Identity, pp. 127–144.This article formulates a cross-cultural framework for understanding guilt and shame based on a conceptualization of identity and morality in Western and Confucian cultures. First, identity is examined in each culture, and then the relation between identity and morality illuminated. The role of guilt and shame in upholding the boundaries of identity and enforcing the constraints (...) of morality is then discussed from the perspective of each culture. The developed framework is then applied the emotions of guilt and shame in Chinese culture drawing on previous field research. Implications for future research are discussed. (shrink)
How does shame differ from guilt? Empirical psychology has recently offered distinct and seemingly incompatible answers to this question. This article brings together four prominent answers into a cohesive whole. These are that (a) shame differs from guilt in being a social emotion; (b) shame, in contrast to guilt, affects the whole self; (c) shame is linked with ideals, whereas guilt concerns prohibitions and (d) shame is oriented towards the self, guilt towards others. After presenting (...) the relevant empirical evidence, we defend specific interpretations of each of these answers and argue that they are related to four different dimensions of the emotions. This not only allows us to overcome the conclusion that the above criteria are either unrelated or conflicting with one another, it also allows us to tell apart what is constitutive from what is typical of them. -/- . (shrink)
"... a profoundly stimulating and satisfying piece of philosophy.... It is a book from which one really can learn something worthwhile." —Idealistic Studies "... exceptionally well-written philosophy of religion... " —Mentalities "... a most impressive phenomenology of religion... a splendid achievement... " —The Reformed Theological Review "... challenging to scholars... interesting to general audiences." —International Journal for Philosophy of Religion "... equal in clarity of thought and comprehensiveness of scope.... profoundly original." —The Reformed Journal "Challenging and thought-provoking, this makes a (...) fine... textbook in the philosophy of religion." —Religious Studies Review "... its virtues as a textbook in phenomenology or philosophy of religion are extraordinary." —Faith and Philosophy Examples from the writings of Kierkegaard, Freud, Heidegger, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, and Tolstoi illuminate Westphal’s thesis that guilt and death are the central problems of human existence. (shrink)
From a phenomenological viewpoint, shame and guilt may be regarded as emotions which have incorporated the gaze and the voice of the other, respectively. The spontaneous and unreflected performance of the primordial bodily self has suffered a rupture: In shame or guilt we are rejected, separated from the others, and thrown back on ourselves. This reflective turn of spontaneous experience is connected with an alienation of primordial bodiliness that may be described as a "corporealization": The lived-body is changed (...) into the objective, corporeal body or "body-for-others." The polarity of "bodiliness" and "corporeality" may further a phenomenological understanding of several mental disorders connected with shame and guilt. This is shown by the examples of body dysmorphic disorder and melancholic depression. (shrink)
Christopher Cowie has recently argued that companions in guilt arguments against the moral error theory that appeal to epistemic reasons cannot work. I show that such companions in guilt arguments can work if, as we have good reason to believe, moral reasons and epistemic reasons are instances of fundamentally the same relation.
The guilt left by immoral actions is why moral duties are more pressing and serious than other reasons like prudential considerations. Religions talk of sin and karma; the secular still speak of spots or stains. I argue that a moral staining view of guilt is in fact the best model. It accounts for guilt's reflexive character and for anxious, scrupulous worries about whether one has transgressed. To understand moral staining, I borrow Christine Korsgaard's view that we construct (...) our identities as agents through our actions. The contribution of immoral actions to self-constitution explains why moral obligations have priority and importance. (shrink)
According to the received account of guilt in the philosophical literature, one cannot feel guilt unless one takes oneself to have done something morally wrong. But ordinary people feel guilt in many cases in which they do not take themselves to have done anything morally wrong. In this paper, I focus on one kind of guilt without perceived wrongdoing, guilt about being merely causally responsible for a bad state-of-affairs. I go on to present a novel (...) account of guilt that explains guilt about mere causal responsibility, according to which guilt represents part of the self as bound up with what is bad. (shrink)
One recently popular strategy for avoiding the moral error theory is via a ‘companions in guilt’ argument. I focus on those recently popular arguments that take epistemic facts as a companion in guilt for moral facts. I claim that there is an internal tension between the two main premises of these arguments. It is a consequence of this that either the soundness or the dialectical force of the companions in guilt argument is undermined. I defend this claim (...) via (i) analogy with philosophical debates concerning the indispensability of mathematical objects to natural science, and (ii) discussion of the ‘entanglement’ of epistemic concepts and moral concepts in deliberation. I conclude by proposing a positive view of what kind of argument must be used if moral error theories are to be successfully undermined. (shrink)
In this paper, I will attempt to develop and defend a common form of intuitive resistance to the companions in guilt argument. I will argue that one can reasonably believe there are promising solutions to the access problem for mathematical realism that don’t translate to moral realism. In particular, I will suggest that the structuralist project of accounting for mathematical knowledge in terms of some form of logical knowledge offers significant hope of success while no analogous approach offers such (...) hope for moral realism. (shrink)
Defenses of the possibility of collective guilt feelings falls roughly into two categories: collectivistic positions that assign guilt feelings to groups as such but play down the experiential component in guilt feelings, and individualistic positions which understand collective guilt feelings in terms of individual experiences. The analogy between collective and individual guilt feelings is examined from two collectivistic viewpoints. It is argued that the functional states of collectives and individuals with respect to guilt are (...) less analogous than collectivists assume. Instead, an individualistic perspectival understanding of collective guilt feelings is proposed. Groups as such cannot feel guilty in the morally relevant sense, but guilt as felt by individuals can have a distinctively collective character, such that the feeling still may be an appropriate response to assignments of collective responsibility. (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)
This paper defends a minimal desert thesis, according to which someone who is blameworthy for something deserves to feel guilty, to the right extent, at the right time, because of her culpability. The sentiment or emotion of guilt includes a thought that one is blameworthy for something as well as an unpleasant affect. Feeling guilty is not a matter of inflicting suffering on oneself, and it need not involve any thought that one deserves to suffer. The desert of a (...) feeling of guilt is a kind of moral propriety of that response, and it is a matter of justice. If the minimal desert thesis is correct, then it is in some respect good that one who is blameworthy feel guilty—there is some justice in that state of affairs. But if retributivism concerns the justification of punishment, the minimal desert thesis is not retributivist. Its plausibility nevertheless raises doubt about whether, as some have argued, there are senses of moral responsibility that are not desert-entailing. (shrink)
Using the machinery of Game Theory, this article analyzes how shame and guilt affect preferences. Based on abundant psychological literature, we posit that the preference ordering of someone who can feel shame (or guilt) must satisfy a number of axioms and prove that it can be represented by a particular utility function. Understanding how shame and guilt work is important to explain why people respect social norms and exhibit prosocial behavior, many times contrary to their material interest.
This article considers a central ethically relevant interpersonal emotion, guilt. It is argued that guilt, as an irreducible moral category, has a constitutive role to play in our ways of conceptualizing our relations to other people. Without experiencing guilt, or being able to do so, we would not be capable of employing the moral concepts and judgments we do employ. Elaborating on this argument, the paper deals with what may be described as the "metaphysics of guilt." (...) More generally, it is suggested, through a case study on the concept of guilt, that a moral theory avoiding naïve emotivism yet emphasizing the role of emotions in morality can and should pay attention to the transcendental status of emotions such as guilt--emotions constitutive of our concept of moral seriousness. Instead of psychologizing moral emotions, the paper employs Raimond Gaita's Wittgenstein-inspired way of examining the place of the concepts of guilt and remorse in our ethical language-use. Finally, some methodological remarks on the possibility of transcendental reflection in moral philosophy are presented. While it is not necessary to commit oneself to any specific religious tradition in order to emphasize the constitutive role of guilt in the way suggested in the paper, it turns out that the moral depth of this concept requires that one is least open to religiously relevant ways of using moral language. In the fundamental metaphysical sense examined in the paper, guilt is a concept whose home language-game is religious rather than secular ethics. (shrink)
In this paper, I do three things. First, I say what I mean by a ‘companions in guilt’ argument in meta-ethics. Second, I distinguish between two kinds of argument within this family, which I call ‘arguments by entailment’ and ‘arguments by analogy’. Third, I explore the prospects for companions in guilt arguments by analogy. During the course of this discussion, I identify a distinctive variety of argument, which I call ‘arguments by absorption’. I argue that this variety of (...) argument inherits some of the weaknesses of standard arguments by analogy and entailment without obviously adding to their strength. (shrink)
Here are some of the ways in which some philosophers and psychologists have taken the emotion of guilt to be essential to morality. One relatively central idea is that guilt feelings are warranted if an agent knows that he or she has acted morally wrongly. It might be said that in such a case the agent has a strong reason to feel guilt, that the agent ought to have guilt feelings, that the agent is justified in (...) having guilt feelings and unjustified in not having guilt feelings. It might be said that it would be immoral of an agent not to have feelings of guilt after realizing that he or she has acted morally wrongly or that only an agent with bad character would not have such feelings. (shrink)
In ‘Human Fallibility and the Need for Forgiveness’, Claudia Blöser has proposed a Kantian account of our reasons to forgive that situates our moral fallibility as their ultimate ground. Blöser argues that Kant’s duty to be forgiving is grounded on the need to be relieved from the burden of our moral failure, a need that we all have in virtue of our moral fallible nature, regardless of whether or not we have repented. Blöser claims that Kant’s proposal yields a plausible (...) account of the normative status of forgiveness. Kant classifies the duty to be forgiving as a wide duty of virtue, and according to Blöser, this means that Kantian forgiveness is elective in the sense that forgiveness is good in general but without being obligatory in each particular case. In the course of presenting her own reconstruction of Kant’s account, Blöser also objects to some aspects of an interpretation of Kant’s theory of forgiveness which I had previously defended in my paper ‘Forgiveness and Moral Development’. Although there are a lot of points of agreement between our interpretations, the aim of this article is to highlight four key points of disagreement. These issues are worth discussing because they have implications not only for a plausible interpretation of a recognisable Kantian account of forgiveness but also for wider debates in the contemporary literature on forgiveness. First, I show that Kant is not committed to a form of weak situationism as suggested by Blöser and that Kant’s grounding of the duty to be forgiving does not appeal to moral luck. Second, I argue that although Kant’s duty to be forgiving is elective in one sense of the term, it is not elective in another important sense of the term, and that it is in fact better not to interpret Kantian imperfect duties as being elective. Third, I show that awareness of moral fallibility per se does not provide a morally appropriate ground for forgiveness and offer an alternative reconstruction of Kant’s account- in which fallibility plays a role, but it is not the main reason to forgive. Finally, I argue that Blöser’s account of the need to be forgiven is not recognisable Kantian because, from a Kantian perspective, repentance is a necessary condition for the desirability and, in fact, the very possibility of ameliorating our own guilt. (shrink)
The aim of the present paper is to evaluate the notion of collective guilt feeling both in the light of research in affectivity and in collective intentionality. The paper is divided into an introduction and three main sections. Section 1) highlights relevant features of guilt‐family emotions such as the relation between feeling guilt and objective guilt, the relation between feeling guilt and its content, and the relation between feeling guilt and the ‘self’. Moreover, the (...) distinction between feeling guilt and feeling regret is given due attention. Section 2) examines Margaret Gilbert's arguments in favor of a collectivist view of collective guilt feeling , according to which groups do genuinely feel guilt. Against the collectivist position I argue for an individualist ‘membership account’ of collective guilt feeling in terms of individual members' we‐feeling of guilt. The membership account of collective guilt feeling is vindicated on grounds of a naturalist and non‐judgmentalist understanding of emotions, as well as on the logic of personal pronouns. It combines individualism regarding the subject of the feeling with collectivism regarding the irreducibility of we‐feelings and provides, as I further argue, the required moral force attributed to collective guilt feeling. The concern of section 3) is the question of the appropriate emotional response to collective wrongdoing. I argue against the view that group members are categorically ‘committed to feel guilt as a body’ for wrongdoings committed by the group. Given that individual members often do not participate in their groups' wrongdoings, it seems unjust to impose a requirement for feeling guilt upon them. I suggest that in a general account of the appropriate assessment of collective wrongdoing, feeling regret is the better candidate than feeling guilt for the role of the minimally required emotional response.For us collectively to feel guilt over our action A is for us to be jointly committed to feeling guilt as a body over our action A. [. . .] The parties [. . .] constitute, as far as possible, a single subject of guilt feelings .[A] collective cannot respond affectively [. . .], only its constitutive members can. The lack of an affective counter‐response is troubling, because the efficacy of responses of accountability partially depends upon affect. The response of shame, guilt, and regret help to register the significance of the harm. (shrink)
Transcendental Guilt challenges traditional ways of understanding moral philosophy by proposing, instead of mainstream ethical theorizing, a serious moral reflection on our ethical finitude, focusing on the concept of guilt. It argues that guilt plays a "transcendental" role in our ethical lives by being constitutive of the seriousness characteristic of the moral point of view.