Document Type




Publication Date

Winter 2012


Much of the philosophical work on moral responsibility assumes that we should understand people’s moral responsibility for the actions they take in terms of the appropriateness of the blaming emotions—resentment, anger, and indignation. However, current theorizing about the blaming emotions is often psychologically uninformed. Drawing on work in empirical psychology, I have recently argued that anger serves three functions in human psychology: appraisal, motivation, and communication. In this project, I propose to extend that analysis to the entire class of blaming emotions. I will show that theorizing about moral responsibility is myopic if it focuses on one of the functions of the blaming emotions while ignoring the others. I plan to extend this more psychologically realistic account of the blaming emotions to some philosophically puzzling phenomena. Specifically, I have in mind the moral responsibility of psychopaths and people who are morally insane. I also plan to use the analysis to shed light on the moral responsibility of drug users, as well the appropriateness of holding responsible wrongdoers who have been subject to unjust formative circumstances.