Our topic is the moral task of righting one’s wrongful actions and the extent to which this should be considered primarily as a task for the wrongdoer alone, an interaction between the wrongdoer and victim, or a more broadly communal act. In considering this question, we are asked to consider what it means for justice to be served with regard to both victim and wrongdoer.
This essay argues that the theory of forgiveness that Jean Hampton presents in FORGIVENESS AND MERCY has been misunderstood and undervalued. By placing the impersonal reactive attitudes at the center of her account of forgiveness, Hampton offers a valuable alternative to the standard view.
When is one person entitled to sanction another for moral wrongdoing? When, instead, must one mind one’s own business? Stephen Darwall argues that the legitimacy of social sanctioning is essential to the very concept of moral obligation. But, I will argue, Darwall’s “second person” theory of accountability unfortunately implies that every person is entitled to sanction every wrongdoer for every misdeed. In this essay, I defend a set of principles for differentiating those who have the standing to sanction from those (...) who do not. (shrink)
According to standard philosophical analyses, only victims can forgive. There are good reasons to reject this view. After all, people who are neither direct nor indirect victims of a wrong frequently feel moral anger over injustice. The choice to foreswear or overcome such moral anger is subject to most of the same sorts of considerations as victims’ choices to forgive. Furthermore, bystanders’ reactions to their experiences of moral anger often reflect either virtues or vices that are of a piece with (...) what we normally describe as a forgiving or unforgiving disposition. In this paper, I reject the view that only victims can forgive by comparing the experience and regulation of moral anger by victims and bystanders. The virtues of victims and bystanders with regard to moral anger are so similar that there is no good reason to apply different labels. However, the recognition of forgiveness in bystanders offers us more than simple consistency. It also leads us to think about the role moral bystanders play in the maintenance of the moral community, as well as the ways in which this role can be abused or overstepped. (shrink)
An ethic for wrongdoers -- Repaying moral debts : self-punishment and restitution -- Changing one's heart, changing the past : repentance and moral transformation -- Reforming relationships : the reconciliation theory of atonement -- Forgiveness, self-forgiveness, and redemption -- Making amends for crime : an evaluation of restorative justice -- Collective atonement : making amends to the Magdalen penitents.
Jean Hampton argues that we can detect exploitation in personal relationships by thinking about what we would agree to were we to set aside the emotional benefits we receive from those relationships. Hampton calls her account "feminist contractarianism," but it has recently been critiqued as decidedly unfeminist, on the grounds that it is hostile to women's interests and women's values. Furthermore, Hampton's requirement that we imaginatively distance ourselves from our emotional connections to our loved ones--the key element in her contractarian (...) test--is simply ad hoc. In this essay, I will evaluate these objections and offer a new justification for Hampton's test. I conclude that feminist contractarianism is not only a useful tool for detecting exploitation in the family, it is also deserving of its feminist label. (shrink)
In her later writings Jean Hampton develops an expressive theory of punishment she takes to be retributivist. Unlike Feinberg, Hampton claims wrongdoings as well as punishments are expressive. Wrongdoings assert that the victim is less valuable than victimizer. On her view we are obligated to punish because we are obligated to respond to this false assertion. Punishment expresses the moral truth that victim and wrongdoer are equally valuable. We argue that Hampton's argument would work only if she held that exerting (...) power over another provides evidence (albeit defeasible) of one's greater value. This is clearly a premise that neither she nor her readers are likely to accept. (shrink)
The literature in ethics is filled with theories of what makes an action wrong, what makes an actor responsible and blamable for his wrongful actions and what we are justified in doing to wrongdoers (e.g., may we punish them? must we forgive them?). However, there is relatively little discussion of what wrongdoers themselves must do in the aftermath of their wrongful acts. This essay attempts to remedy that problem by critically evaluating some competing accounts of the moral obligations of wrongdoers. (...) It argues for a conception of atonement that highlights the value of reconciliation, as opposed to repentance or self-punishment. (shrink)
Do people deserve a chance to right the wrongs they have committed? Would denying an offender the opportunity to make amends amount to an injustice? There are compelling reasons to grant such a right. However, there are also significant objections. First, a right to make amends potentially undermines the state's right to punish criminal wrongdoers. Secondly, the alleged right threatens to put undue pressure on victims to forgive their abusers. In this essay I argue that these objections can be met (...) and that wrongdoers do indeed have a right to make amends. (shrink)
What makes an ``ought'''' claim authoritative? What makes aparticular norm genuinely reason-giving for an agent? This paper arguesthat normative authority can best be accounted for in terms of thejustification of norms. The main obstacle to such a theory, however, isa regress problem. The worry is that every attempt to offer ajustification for an ``ought'''' claim must appeal to another ``ought''''claim, ad infinitum. The paper argues that vicious regress canbe avoided in practical reasoning in the same way coherentists avoid theproblem in (...) epistemology. Norms are justified by their coherence withother norms. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that collective responsibility can be based on group membership. It argues that collective responsibility is best understood in terms of duties to respond to the victims of collective crimes. Reasonable fear on the part of the victimized groups creates duties to respond for members of the perpetrating group. This account does a better job of capturing our intuitions about actual cases and the phenomenology of collective responsibility than other accounts currently on offer. It also offers (...) us a justification of collective responsibility judgments that is compatible with the separateness of persons. (shrink)
What makes a norm a genuinely authoritative guide to action? For many theorists, the answer takes a foundationalist form, analogous to foundationalism in epistemology. They say that there is at least one norm that is justified in itself. On most versions, the norm is said to be incorrigibly authoritative. All other norms are justified in virtue of their connection with it. This essay argues that all such foundationalist theories of normative authority fail because they cannot give an account of the (...) privileged status of an allegedly foundational norm. (shrink)
What features does a norm have to have such that we really ought to follow it? This paper argues that norms are authoritative when they are justified in a particular sense. However, this brand of justification is not any of those with which we are currently familiar. The authority of norms is not a matter of moral, epistemic or prudential justification. It depends instead on what I call "justification simpliciter." The concept of justification simpliciter is defined and defended in this (...) paper. (shrink)
The article argues that theorists who try to justify 'ought'-claims, i.e., who try to show that a standard of behavior has normative authority, will run into a regress problem. The problem is similar in structure to the familiar regress in the justification of belief. The point of the paper is not skeptical. Rather, the aim is to help theorists better understand the challenges associated with formulating a theory of normative authority.