One mark of interpersonal relationships is a tendency to blame. But what precise evaluations and responses constitute blame? Is it most centrally a judgment, or is it an emotion, or something else? Does blame express a demand, or embody a protest, or does it simply mark an impaired relationship? What accounts for its force or sting, and how similar is it to punishment?
The essays in this volume explore answers to these (and other) questions about the nature of blame, but they also explore the various norms that govern the propriety of blame. The traditional question is whether anyone ever deserves to be blamed, but the essays here provide a fresh perspective by focusing on blame from the blamer's perspective instead. Is our tendency to blame a vice, something we should work to replace with more humane ways of relating, or does it rather lie at the very heart of a commitment to morality? What can we legitimately expect of each other, and in general, what sort of attitude do would-be blamers need to have in order to have the standing to blame? Hypocritical or self-righteous blame seems objectionable, but why?
The contributions to this volume aim to give us a fuller picture of the nature and norms of blame, and more generally of the promises and perils of membership in the human moral community.
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D. Justin Coates works on issues in ethics, moral psychology, and the philosophy of action. He is the Law and Philosophy Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.
Neal A. Tognazzini works at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics on problems of agency, free will, and moral responsibility. His publications have appeared in Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophy and Public Affairs, among other venues. He is an Assistant Professor at The College of William & Mary.
"Blame: Its Nature and Norms...is a collection of exceedingly high-level essays on a range of topics relevant to moral blame, and serves to unify what has thus far been a somewhat fragmented philosophical discussion in a way that makes this volume a helpful resource for those working on a variety of moral issues."
--Social Theory and Practice
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