"... 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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
: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)
We often feel survivor guilt when the very circumstances that harm others leave us unscathed. Although survivor guilt is both commonplace and intelligible, it raises a puzzle for the standard philosophical account of guilt, according to which people feel guilt only when they take themselves to be morally blameworthy. The standard account implies that survivor guilt is uniformly unfitting, as people are not blameworthy simply for having fared better than others. In this paper, we offer (...) a rival account of guilt, the relational account of guilt, which makes sense of survivor guilt and other forms of guilt without self-blame while preserving the intelligibility of guilt about culpable wrongdoing. According to this account, guilt involves the feeling of being unable to justify ourselves to others, and we lack self-justification when we (however blamelessly) stand on the positive side of an undesirable asymmetry with them. When someone survives something that those around her do not, the disparity in outcome constitutes an asymmetry that is often undesirable, because it arises from luck or violates a requirement of solidarity. Thus, survivor guilt is often fitting. (shrink)
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)
G.E.M. Anscombe argued that we should dispense with deontic concepts when doing ethics, if it is psychologically possible to do so. In response, I contend that deontic concepts are constitutive of the common moral experience of guilt. This has two consequences for Anscombe's position. First, seeing that guilt is a deontic emotion, we should recognize that Anscombe's qualification on her thesis applies: psychologically, we need deontology to understand our obligations and hence whether our guilt is warranted. Second, (...) the fact that guilt is a deontic moral emotion debunks Anscombe's claim that deontic concepts are a relic of the Western, religious past: guilt feelings–hence the idea of moral duty as well–can be found in cultures without an ethics of divine command. Modern moral philosophers' interest in oughts and obligations is not an academic hobbyhorse, but a vital concern arising out of a primeval human emotion. (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)
Does our responsibility extend to deeds that have been performed in our name? Is our modern understanding of responsibility in need of revision? Arendt holds that it is not necessary to revise our conception of responsibility since there are two forms of responsibility: a moral and a political one. Margalit, in turn, argues that our conception of responsibility is too narrow. We are not only morally responsible for the deeds we have performed or neglected to perform but also for the (...) deeds carried out in our name. I believe neither position to be entirely coherent: Arendt is mistaken to argue that collective responsibility is free from moral expressions and Margalit conflates political with moral responsibility and confuses guilt with shame. The article concludes that moral responsibility is distinct from collective responsibility, even though the former retains elements of the latter. (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)
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)
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)
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.
My ambition in this paper is to provide an account of an unacknowledged example of blameless guilt that, I argue, merits further examination. The example is what I call carer guilt: guilt felt by nurses and family members caring for patients with palliative-care needs. Nurses and carers involved in palliative care often feel guilty about what they perceive as their failure to provide sufficient care for a patient. However, in some cases the guilty carer does not think (...) that he has the capacity to provide sufficient care; he has, in his view, done all he can. These carers cannot legitimately be blamed for failing to meet their own expectations. Yet despite acknowledging their blamelessness, they nonetheless feel guilty. My aims are threefold: first, to explicate the puzzling nature of the carer guilt phenomenon; second, to motivate the need to solve that puzzle; third, to give my own account of blameless guilt that can explain why carers feel guilty despite their blamelessness. In doing so I argue that the guilt experienced by carers is a legitimate case of guilt, and that with the right caveats it can be considered an appropriate response to the progressive deterioration of someone for whom we care. (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)
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.
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)
I examine a particular case in which moral guilt seems to be incurred even though the agent cannot be said to be blameworthy in any way. I argue that the agent-regret induced by one’s causal involvement in bringing about the bad state of affairs is not always sufficient to account for the extent of guilt, and I suggest that the sense of failure in terms of fulfilling tasks that arise from role-responsibilities that have been taken on must be (...) considered as well. Then I explain that this kind of moral guilt is a significant aspect of our practical life because the agent who has taken on a substantial role-responsibility such as parenthood is subject to conflicting demands as a result and because the agent cannot be expected to fulfill all the tasks associated with this role-responsibility on one’s own. (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)
The use of child soldiers in armed conflict is an increasing global concern. Although philosophers have examined whether child soldiers can be considered combatants in war, much less attention has been paid to their moral responsibility. While it is tempting to think of them as having diminished or limited responsibility, child soldiers often report feeling guilt for the wrongs they commit. Here I argue that their feelings of guilt are both intelligible and morally appropriate. The feelings of (...) class='Hi'>guilt that child soldiers experience are not self-censure; rather their guilt arises from their attempts to come to terms with what they see as their own morally ambiguous motives. Their guilt is appropriate because it reaffirms their commitment to morality and facilitates their self-forgiveness. (shrink)
Bloggers confessing that they waste food, non-governmental organizations naming corporations selling unsustainably harvested seafood, and veterans apologizing to Native Americans at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation for environmental and social devastation caused by the United States government all signal the existence of action-oriented guilt and identity-oriented shame about participation in environmental degradation. Environmental Guilt and Shamedemonstrates that these moral emotions are common among environmentally friendly segments of the United States but have received little attention from environmental ethicists though (...) they can catalyze or hinder environmental action. Concern about environmental guilt and shame among "everyday environmentalists"reveals the practical, emotional, ethical, and existential issues raised by environmental guilt and shame and ethical insights about guilt, shame, responsibility, agency, and identity. A typology of guilt and shame enables the development and evaluation of these ethical insights.Environmental Guilt and Shame makes three major claims: first, individuals and collectives, including the diffuse collectives that cause climate change, can have identity, agency, and responsibility and thus guilt and shame. Second, some agents, including collectives, should feel guilt and/or shame for environmental degradation if they hold environmental values and think that their actions shape and reveal their identity. Third, a number of conditions are required to conceptually,existentially, and practically deal with guilt and shame's effects on agents. These conditions can be developed and maintained through rituals. Existing rituals need more development to fully deal with individual and collective guilt and shame as well as the anthropogenic environmental degradation that may sparkthem."-- Provided by publisher. (shrink)
Guilt appeals have been found effective in stimulating ethical consumption behaviors in western cultures. However, studies performed in Confucian cultural contexts have found contradictory results. We aim to investigate the inconclusive results of research on guilt and ethical consumption and to explain the inconsistencies. We aim to better understand the influence of guilt on ethical consumption in a Chinese Confucian context and to explore the culturally relevant individual-level concept of interdependent self-construal as a moderator. We build our (...) argument on the Confucian ethics of ren-yi-li where the virtue of propriety specifies role-based obligations depending on the proximity of one’s relationship to others and may thus limit ethical behaviors that are directed to those who are relationally distant. We hypothesize a positive relationship between guilt and ethical consumption that is, however, negatively moderated by interdependent self-construal. Put another way, consumers who define themselves strongly through their relationships with close others are less likely to compensate for guilt through ethical consumption. We find the hypothesized model supported in a survey of 314 Chinese consumers. The results suggest that guilt appeals can stimulate ethical consumption in Confucian cultures. However, guilt appeals may not be enough, as the moderating effect suggests that they will be most effective when combined with an ethical consumption initiative that conforms to the Confucian li principle. As this principle implies prioritizing close over distant relationships, it follows that consumers may be more likely to respond to guilt appeals which are linked to ethical consumption initiatives whose beneficiaries they feel connected to. (shrink)
The first section of this paper briefly summarizes my positive view of global helping traits. The remaining sections then develop the view in two new directions by examining the relationship between guilt, embarrassment, and helping behavior. It turns out that guilt and embarrassment reliably and cross-situationally enhance helping behavior, but in such a way that is incompatible with the nature of compassion as traditionally understood.
This paper seeks to vindicate a common but philosophically puzzling phenomenon: Sometimes, a person experiences extreme guilt in relation to a wrong that their loved one has committed, even though they are not at fault for that wrong. Guilt in these cases violates a foundational principle in our moral lives – viz., the fault principle. On that principle, one is blameworthy for a wrong only if one is at fault with respect to that wrong. Insofar as the family (...) members explored here are not at fault, their professed experience of guilt looks to be irrational. Against the charge of irrationality, I argue that it is sometimes morally appropriate, and perhaps even morally required, to judge oneself to be blameworthy for the wrong of a loved one in which one played no culpable part. Further, insofar as the first-personal experience ought to dictate the responsibility assessments of victims and third parties, I conclude that these other individuals will have reason to take the intimate to be blameworthy too. I end by extending the phenomenon of faultless guilt beyond the intimate context, to the experience of white guilt. (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)
This article engages sources regarding evolutionary development of guilt (Richard Joyce's The Evolution of Morality, Jesse Prinz's Gut Reactions, and others) and how they can be used to dialogue with material on the alleviation of guilt in the Christian tradition using examples in the work of Anselm of Canterbury and John Chrysostom. This raises a few key questions. If guilt is an evolutionary trait created to build reputation and relationship, how does this mesh with some theological approaches (...) to solutions for guilt? To be more precise, guilt possibly evolved to create a motivation for beneficial communal actions, and necessitates belief in the authority of the rules that one breaks to induce it. That said, does religion play a role in awareness of one's guilt, while also providing a solution to that guilt? The possibilities are explored in this article as they relate to issues of repentance, atonement, and prayer. (shrink)
It is tempting to hold that guilt‐tripping is morally wrong, either because it is objectionably manipulative, or because it involves gratuitously aiming to make another person suffer, or both. In this article, I develop a picture of guilt according to which guilt is a type of pain that incorporates a commitment to its own justification on the basis of the subject's wrongdoing. This picture supports the hypothesis that feeling guilty is an especially efficient means for a wrongdoer (...) to come to more deeply understand why her behavior was wrong; it is precisely because guilt is painful and involves a self‐reflexive justificatory element that it is able to play this role. Such a picture, moreover, preserves the possibility that deliberately making others feel guilty needn't involve aiming gratuitously to harm them and needn't be objectionably manipulative. It follows that we should be surprisingly sanguine about the practice of inducing guilt in wrongdoers as a means of facilitating their moral edification. (shrink)
This essay argues that the criminal justice system in the United States is flawed because it focuses principally on punishment of illegal actions without considering offenders as persons in their entirety. It considers the role that constructive shame and mercy can play in addressing this flaw. The essay concludes by applying this argument to the case of shaming penalties within criminal justice.
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)
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)
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)
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.
Drawing on Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and on his lecture on the Punitive Societies as well as on affect theories, this text tries to analyze a surprising return to shame as a paradigm for punishment. In this context, shame and guilt are both seen not so much as real emotions occurring within the soul of a subject, but as dispositives or affective arrangements that seek different ways to regulate and modulate the feelings of justice and injustice within a society. (...) Excessive shaming, which does not fit well in Foucault’s narrative of a development towards more subtle forms of punishment, will be understood as a form of resistance against the subtleties of control. The text discusses this using the example of Electronic Monitoring and its history as a form of making shame invisible, hiding it as micro-political shame in an economy of guilt. Against this economy, excessive shame as punishment forms an aneconomic force that sets out to reset the rules of community and identity. (shrink)
This chapter begins by tracing the development of the notion of conscience in the Western philosophical tradition and then addresses questions regarding the supposed authority or normativity of conscience. The relation between the idea of conscience and the notions of guilt and shame is examined, which in turn leads on to the question of whether the concepts of guilt and shame inhabit essentially different ethical landscapes. The chapter concludes by looking at the contribution of psychoanalytic thinking to our (...) modern understanding of the phenomena of conscience, guilt and shame, and by asking why the resulting insights have been so imperfectly assimilated into contemporary anglophone moral philosophy. (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)
This chapter focuses on one of the common fallacies in Western philosophy, 'guilt by association' (GBA). GBA is the erroneous logic that just because someone/something A is associated with someone/something B, that someone/something A has or accepts all of the qualities of someone/something B. This fallacy permeates society, from social groups, to political campaigns, to business relationships, and to the court system. When politics, social issues, and business collide, GBA enters new realms. It is also used when it is (...) found that perpetrators of horrific events belonged to a certain group. GBA is often a knee‐jerk reaction that has deep roots in people's implicit biases and has even been supported consistently by legal precedent. To disrupt the desire to make these immediate and fallacious assumptions, individuals must recognize the consequences of doing so and instead build their arguments on facts and realities. GBA can have dire consequences. (shrink)