Resentment of Advice and Norms of Advice

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (4):813-828 (2017)
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Advice-giving is an important means of supporting others to act well. It inspires gratitude, indifference and resentment in equal measure. Although we can often predict a resentful reception for advice, its normative implications may be unclear. Should advice that is likely to be resented be withheld or modified because of its resentability, or delivered despite it? The norms that underwrite advice-giving, and which inform justified resentment, have thus far evaded systematic philosophical analysis. Using a case proposed by Edward Hinchman, the first part of this paper develops three lines of reasoning that explain why advice might be resented. The second part explores three norms of advice suggested by the case. Together they cast light upon the role of advice in our moral and social lives, and offer a starting point for practical reasoning about when to give resentable advice, and how to be a good advisor.



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