Law and Philosophy 41 (2):283-304 (2022)

Alec Walen
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Alec Walen
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Punishment should, at least normally, be reserved for blameworthy actions. But to make sense of that claim, we need an account of blame and of why it might license or even call for punishment. Doug Husak, in whose honor this paper is written, rejects quality of will theories of blame as relevant to criminal punishment – what I call ‘criminal blame’. He offers instead a reason-responsive account of blameworthiness, according to which blame applies to wrongful actions chosen by agents who knew that what they were doing was or was likely to be wrong, and who nonetheless acted wrongly because of weakness of will. I agree with Husak about quality of will theories, but I argue that weakness of the will is often exculpating, and that when it is not it is because of normative negligence with regard to the reasons to steel one’s will. Thus, I argue his reason responsive account fails too. I offer instead an account of blame the key idea of which is that criminal blame is normatively appropriate as a way of communicating the importance of self-blame. Self-blame properly responds to normative negligence. Moreover, it comes with the emotion of guilt in which an agent experiences a kind of suffering for her unexcused wrongdoing. Punishment, based on criminal blame, reinforces the importance of guilt for maintaining a community of mutual respect.
Keywords Blame, punishment, guilt, Husak, akrasia, negligence, retributivism
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DOI 10.1007/s10982-021-09436-4
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Criminal Blame, Exclusion and Moral Dialogue.Costanza Porro - 2021 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 15 (2):223-235.

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