Essays in Philosophy 18 (2):295-315 (2017)

Shannon Fyfe
Vanderbilt University
When soldiers come home from war, some experience lingering emotional effects from the choices they were forced to make, and the outcomes of these choices. In this article, we consider the gap between objective assessments of blame and subjective assessments of self-blame, guilt, and shame after war, and we suggest a way of understanding how soldiers can understand their moral responsibility from both of these vantage points. We examine arguments from just war theory regarding the objective moral responsibility of combatants and consider the role moral luck plays in our assessment of moral responsibility. We then use P.F. Strawson’s account of the reactive attitudes to demonstrate the limitations of focusing excessively on the objective stance to determine the blameworthiness of soldiers. We argue that we should think about blame alongside moral emotions like guilt and shame, which will allow us to better understand subjective blame and the experiences of soldiers who blame themselves after war. We claim that objective determinations of heroism or responsibility do not adequately capture the complexity of moral emotions for soldiers returning home after war. As part of a shared moral community, civilians owe veterans more than automated responses based on the civilian experience.
Keywords subjective blame  just war theory  soldiers
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.7710/1526-0569.1586
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,319
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Moral Luck.Thomas Nagel - 1993 - In Daniel Statman (ed.), Moral Luck. State University of New York Press. pp. 141--166.
Civilizing Blame.V. McGeer - 2013 - In D. Justin Coates & Neal A. Tognazzini (eds.), Blame: Its Nature and Norms. Oxford University Press. pp. 162--188.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Objective or Subjective 'Ought'?Sven Ove Hansson - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (1):33-35.
Nagel on Subjective and Objective.V. Haksar - 1981 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 24 (March):105-21.
Subjective and Objective.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - In Mortal Questions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 207-222.
A Dilemma for Objective Act-Utilitarianism.Gerald Lang - 2004 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 3 (2):221-239.
Epistemic and Moral Obligation Regarding Believing.Colin Russell Mathers - 1998 - Dissertation, The University of Rochester
Keep Things in Perspective: Reasons, Rationality, and the A Priori.Daniel Whiting - 2014 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (1):1-22.
Exploring Subjective Representationalism.Neil Mehta - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (4):570-594.
Manipulation Arguments and the Standing to Blame.Matt King - 2015 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (1):1-20.
Probability, Objectivity, and Induction.Arnold Baise - 2013 - Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 13 (2):81-95.
Character and Blame in Hume and Beyond.Antti Kauppinen - 2016 - In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character. Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
29 ( #376,516 of 2,448,685 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
12 ( #53,361 of 2,448,685 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes