Philosophical Studies 178 (11):1–18 (2021)

Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University
When is it fitting for an agent to feel guilt over an outcome, and for others to be morally indignant with her over it? A popular answer requires that the outcome happened because of the agent, or that the agent was a cause of the outcome. This paper reviews some of what makes this causal-explanatory view attractive before turning to two kinds of problem cases: cases of collective harms and cases of fungible switching. These, it is argued, motivate a related but importantly different answer: What is required for fitting guilt and indignation is that the agent is relevantly implicated in that outcome: that the agent’s morally substandard responsiveness to reasons, or substandard caring, is relevantly involved in a normal explanation of it. This answer, it is further argued, makes sense because when an agent’s substandard caring is so involved, the outcome provides a lesson against such caring, a lesson central to the function of guilt and indignation.
Keywords Moral Responsibility  Reactive attitudes  Collective responsibility  Blame
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-021-01613-4
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