Letting go of blame

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (3):720-740 (2023)
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Most philosophers acknowledge ways of overcoming blame, even blame directed at a culpable offender, that are not forgiving. Sometimes continuing to blame a friend for their offensive comment just isn't worth it, so we let go instead. However, despite being a common and widely recognised experience, no one has offered a positive account of letting go. Instead, it tends to be characterised negatively and superficially, usually in order to delineate the boundaries of forgiveness. This paper gives a more complete and systematic account of this important practice. We argue that the basic distinction between forgiving and letting go of blame follows from distinctions that many philosophers already accept. We then develop a positive account in terms of the reasons one has to let go rather than forgive and show that letting go is as valuable a part of our shared moral lives as forgiveness.



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Author Profiles

Luke Brunning
University of Oxford
Per-Erik Milam
University of California, San Diego (PhD)

Citations of this work

Defending Elective Forgiveness.Craig K. Agule - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10.
Recent Work in Forgiveness.Simone Gubler - 2022 - Analysis 82 (4):738-753.
The Grounds of Excuses.Marie van Loon - 2023 - Philosophia 51 (5):2379-2394.

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References found in this work

Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Aptness of Anger.Amia Srinivasan - 2018 - Journal of Political Philosophy 26 (2):123-144.
Two Faces of Responsibility.Gary Watson - 1996 - Philosophical Topics 24 (2):227-248.
Oppressive Double Binds.Sukaina Hirji - 2021 - Ethics 131 (4):643-669.

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