Recent Seminars and Lectures
Miranda Fricker (Birbeck) - Blame and Remorse as Partner Moral Emotions
Weekly Research Seminar.
This seminar was held in room 005, 48/49 Old Elvet, Durham. Refreshments were served from 11am with the talk commencing at 11.30am.
Title: Blame and Remorse as Partner Moral Emotions
I will explore Rai Gaita's contention that the emotion of remorse, considered as a suffering perception of the harm one has done to another, should be at the centre of moral philosophy. And I'll suggest that the counterpart emotion, now from the recipient's perspective, is blame - blame considered as a suffering perception of harm done to one by another. This is blame in its outward-directed, transformative mode of communication, rather than in its inward-directed mode of stagnant resentment or 'ressentiment'. I call it 'Communicative Blame'.
Both remorse and blame are clearly negative moral emotions. But while few have considered remorse to be an unhelpfully negative moral sentiment, the idea that blame is unhelpful, and pointlessly negative is frequently expressed, with the implication that moral life would be better without it. I think this is wholly mistaken (except inasmuch as there can of course be corrupt or excessive forms of blame, just as there can be corrupt or excessive forms of any moral emotion). As an antidote, I will try to present a conception of blame as an essential moral emotion, situating it in its proper place: as the second-personal counterpart to remorse. This pair of mirror emotions structures the basic 'reactive attitudes' that should indeed be at the heart of moral philosophy. Together they (re-)generate our shared moral reasons for action.