Shame and the Scope of Moral Accountability

Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):544-564 (2021)
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It is widely agreed that reactive attitudes play a central role in our practices concerned with holding people responsible. However, it remains controversial which emotional attitudes count as reactive attitudes such that they are eligible for this central role. Specifically, though theorists near universally agree that guilt is a reactive attitude, they are much more hesitant on whether to also include shame. This paper presents novel arguments for the view that shame is a reactive attitude. The arguments also support the view that shame is a reactive attitude in the sense that concerns moral accountability. The discussion thereby challenges both the view that shame is not a reactive attitude at all, suggested by philosophers such as R. Jay Wallace and Stephen Darwall, and the view that shame is a reactive attitude but does not concern moral accountability, recently defended by Andreas Carlsson and Douglas Portmore.

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Shawn Tinghao Wang
University of Washington


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