Outrage and the Bounds of Empathy

Philosophers' Imprint 22 (16) (2022)
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Often, when we are angry, we are angry at someone who has hurt us, and our anger is a protest against our perceived mistreatment. In these cases, its function is to hold the abuser accountable for their offense. The anger involves a demand for some sort of change or response: that the hurt be acknowledged, that the relationship be repaired, that the offending party reform in some way. In this paper, I develop and defend an account of a different form of anger, called "outrage anger". Outrage anger does not aim to hold an abuser accountable, nor to demand repair or reform. Drawing on the work of Maria Lugones, I argue that outrage anger is directed at the state of affairs in which a violation is unintelligible to the dominant moral community. The central function of outrage anger is a psychological boundary setting: it closes off the victim’s ability to feel empathy for their abuser. Outrage has an important role to play in the context of political injustice, but that it also comes with significant costs. 

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Sukaina Hirji
University of Pennsylvania

Citations of this work

Degrees of Epistemic Criticizability.Cameron Boult - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
Maladjustment.Michaela McSweeney - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 180 (3):843-869.
Feminist political philosophy.Noëlle McAfee - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The rage we should have: Comments on Myisha Cherry's The Case for Rage.Lidal Dror - 2023 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 61 (2):362-372.

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References found in this work

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 2003 - In Gary Watson (ed.), Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Willing, Wanting, Waiting.Richard Holton - 2009 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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