Shame and Attributability

In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, vol. 6 (forthcoming)
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Responsibility as accountability is normally taken to have stricter control conditions than responsibility as attributability. A common way to argue for this claim is to point to differences in the harmfulness of blame involved in these different kinds of responsibility. This paper argues that this explanation does not work once we shift our focus from other-directed blame to self-blame. To blame oneself in the accountability sense is to feel guilt and feeling guilty is to suffer. To blame oneself in the attributability sense, it will be argued, is to feel shame and feeling shame is also to suffer. The different control conditions cannot be explained by a difference in the harm of blame. Instead, this paper argues that accountability and attributability are governed by different kinds of appropriateness: an agent S is accountability blameworthy for X only if S deserves to feel guilty; an agent S is attributability blameworthy for X only if it is fitting that S feels shame for X.

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Andreas Brekke Carlsson
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences


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