Blameworthiness and Time

Legal Theory 18 (2):101-137 (2012)
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Abstract

Reactive emotion accounts hold that blameworthiness should be analyzed in terms of the familiar reactive emotions. However, despite the attractions of such views, we are not persuaded that blameworthiness is ultimately a matter of correctly felt reactive emotion. In this paper, we draw attention to a range of little-discussed considerations involving the moral significance of the passage of time that drive a wedge between blameworthiness and the reactive emotions: the appropriateness of the reactive emotions is sensitive to the passage of time in ways that attributions of blameworthiness are not. There are a number of ways in which reactive emotion accounts might attempt to accommodate the moral significance of time, however. We consider the most important of these, but ultimately find them wanting. Accordingly, we conclude that the prospects for the reactive emotion accounts are bleak. Our argument, if successful, has a range of implications for legal theory, most importantly in providing a novel moral basis for statutes of limitations and in shedding light on new avenues in the theory of criminal law generally.

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Author Profiles

Jules Coleman
Constructor University
Alexander Sarch
University of Surrey

Citations of this work

Is Blameworthiness Forever?Andrew C. Khoury & Benjamin Matheson - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (2):204-224.
True Blame.Randolph Clarke & Piers Rawling - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (3):736-749.
Deserved Guilt and Blameworthiness over Time.Andreas Brekke Carlsson - 2022 - In Andreas Carlsson (ed.), Self-Blame and Moral Responsibility. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Being Sympathetic to Bad-History Wrongdoers.Craig K. Agule - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (1):147-169.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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