Addressed Blame and Hostility

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (1):111-119 (2020)
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Abstract

Benjamin Bagley ('Properly Proleptic Blame', Ethics 127, July 2017) sets out a dilemma for addressed blame, that is, blame addressed to its targets as an implicit demand for recognition. The dilemma arises when we ask whether offenders would actually appreciate this demand, via a sound deliberative route from their existing motivations. If they would, their offense reflects a deliberative mistake. If they wouldn't, addressing them is futile, and blame's emotional engagement seems unwarranted. Bagley wants to resolve the dilemma in such a way that addressed blame's distinctive elements of hostility and emotional engagement can be accounted for. I argue that Bagley's focus on the proleptic character of addressed blame helps to avoid the dilemma, but that Bagley has difficulties accounting for the element of hostility in addressed blame. I suggest that an alternative account of addressed blame makes better sense of Bagley's paradigm example, avoids Bagley's dilemma in the way Bagley's original solution does, because it preserves addressed blame's proleptic character, and can account for addressed blame's elements of emotional engagement and hostility.

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