Guilt Without Perceived Wrongdoing

Philosophy and Public Affairs 48 (3):285-314 (2020)
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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.

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Michael Zhao
University of Notre Dame


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