An ethic for wrongdoers -- Repaying moral debts : self-punishment and restitution -- Changing one's heart, changing the past : repentance and moral transformation -- Reforming relationships : the reconciliation theory of atonement -- Forgiveness, self-forgiveness, and redemption -- Making amends for crime : an evaluation of restorative justice -- Collective atonement : making amends to the Magdalen penitents.
When is one person entitled to sanction another for moral wrongdoing? When, instead, must one mind one’s own business? Stephen Darwall argues that the legitimacy of social sanctioning is essential to the very concept of moral obligation. But, I will argue, Darwall’s “second person” theory of accountability unfortunately implies that every person is entitled to sanction every wrongdoer for every misdeed. In this essay, I defend a set of principles for differentiating those who have the standing to sanction from those (...) who do not. (shrink)
Particular conceptions of reconciliation vary across a number of dimensions. As section 1 explains, the kind of relationship at issue in a specific context affects the type of improvement in relations that might be necessary in order to qualify as reconciliation. Reconciliation is widely taken to be a scalar concept. Section 2 discusses the spectrum of intensity along which kinds of improvement in relationships fall, and indicates why, in particular contexts, theorists often disagree about the point along this spectrum that (...) is morally or politically most significant. Section 3 provides an overview of the processes commonly cited as contributing to reconciliation. These processes are often controversial; those praised by some commentators as appropriate and constructive responses to past conflict are dismissed by others as undermining the moral or political conditions for just and peaceful relations. Section 4 concentrates on the relationship between reconciliation and justice. While some see these values as compatible and mutually supporting, others argue that, especially in the immediate wake of conflict, parties must often choose between reconciliation and justice. (shrink)
Sometimes we should mind our own business. But at other times it would be wrong to mind one's own business. This paper explores the tension between these two claims by presenting a tendency to mind one's own business as an Aristotelian-style virtue. It is furthered argued that this is a different virtue than tolerance.
The literature in ethics is filled with theories of what makes an action wrong, what makes an actor responsible and blamable for his wrongful actions and what we are justified in doing to wrongdoers (e.g., may we punish them? must we forgive them?). However, there is relatively little discussion of what wrongdoers themselves must do in the aftermath of their wrongful acts. This essay attempts to remedy that problem by critically evaluating some competing accounts of the moral obligations of wrongdoers. (...) It argues for a conception of atonement that highlights the value of reconciliation, as opposed to repentance or self-punishment. (shrink)
IntroductionStrawsonian theories of moral responsibility, which aim to ground the phenomenon of moral responsibility in our practices of holding one another accountable for our actions, lead us to think more carefully about the content of those practices. Strawson and his followers have done much to explore the significance of the deontic reactive attitudes (resentment, indignation and guilt), which we tend to aim at wrongdoers.P. F. Strawson, "Freedom and Resentment," Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. 48 (1962). See also, R. Jay (...) Wallace, Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994); and Stephen Darwall, The Second-Person Standpoint: Morality, Respect and Accountability (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2006). In this essay, I am interested in the ways in which we express those attitudes. While it is plausible that experiencing a negative reactive attitude would be permissible in every case of blameworthy wrongdoing, few would agree that verbal .. (shrink)
According to standard philosophical analyses, only victims can forgive. There are good reasons to reject this view. After all, people who are neither direct nor indirect victims of a wrong frequently feel moral anger over injustice. The choice to foreswear or overcome such moral anger is subject to most of the same sorts of considerations as victims’ choices to forgive. Furthermore, bystanders’ reactions to their experiences of moral anger often reflect either virtues or vices that are of a piece with (...) what we normally describe as a forgiving or unforgiving disposition. In this paper, I reject the view that only victims can forgive by comparing the experience and regulation of moral anger by victims and bystanders. The virtues of victims and bystanders with regard to moral anger are so similar that there is no good reason to apply different labels. However, the recognition of forgiveness in bystanders offers us more than simple consistency. It also leads us to think about the role moral bystanders play in the maintenance of the moral community, as well as the ways in which this role can be abused or overstepped. (shrink)
Jean Hampton argues that we can detect exploitation in personal relationships by thinking about what we would agree to were we to set aside the emotional benefits we receive from those relationships. Hampton calls her account "feminist contractarianism," but it has recently been critiqued as decidedly unfeminist, on the grounds that it is hostile to women's interests and women's values. Furthermore, Hampton's requirement that we imaginatively distance ourselves from our emotional connections to our loved ones--the key element in her contractarian (...) test--is simply ad hoc. In this essay, I will evaluate these objections and offer a new justification for Hampton's test. I conclude that feminist contractarianism is not only a useful tool for detecting exploitation in the family, it is also deserving of its feminist label. (shrink)
Do future generations of a wrongdoing group have a responsibility to preserve the memory of the past? If so, what manner of responsibility is it? In this essay, I critically examine the categories of forward-looking and backward-looking collective responsibility to see what they might offer to this discussion. I argue that these concepts of responsibility are ambiguous in ways that threaten to prevent important questions from being raised. I draw my examples from contemporary German practices of preserving the memory of (...) the Holocaust and World War II, especially the stolpersteine, which are memorial plaques for individual victims embedded in the sidewalks of German cities. (shrink)
The last twenty-five years or so of thought about tort law have been remarkably productive and dynamic, as the dominance of the law and economics model has been challenged by theories that reintroduce the language of corrective justice. Over this same time period, theorizing about corrective justice has sprung up in response to a wide range of social, political and moral issues. I have in mind work on restorative theories in criminal justice; on postwar justice; on truth commissions, political reconciliation (...) and transitional justice in contexts of regime change; on official apologies as responses to international crises, institutionalized abuse and historical injustices; and on interpersonal apology, the making of amends, and forgiveness as responses to everyday moral transgressions. In these writings, theorists explore what people owe to one another in the aftermath of various kinds of wrongdoing, and thereby subtly challenge our ideas about what should be included under the heading of corrective justice. One new strand of thought, which appears in many of these debates, suggests that corrective justice requires a form of reconciliation or relational repair. My goal in this chapter is to introduce this idea and explore what it might offer to the philosophy of tort law. (shrink)
Is gossip ever appropriate as a response to other people’s misdeeds or character flaws? Gossip is arguably the most common means through which communities hold people responsible for their vices and transgressions. Yet, gossiping itself is traditionally considered wrong. This essay develops an account of social punishment in order to ask whether gossip can serve as a legitimate means of enforcing moral norms. In the end, however, I argue that gossip is most likely to be permissible where it resembles punishment (...) as little as possible. (shrink)
In her later writings Jean Hampton develops an expressive theory of punishment she takes to be retributivist. Unlike Feinberg, Hampton claims wrongdoings as well as punishments are expressive. Wrongdoings assert that the victim is less valuable than victimizer. On her view we are obligated to punish because we are obligated to respond to this false assertion. Punishment expresses the moral truth that victim and wrongdoer are equally valuable. We argue that Hampton's argument would work only if she held that exerting (...) power over another provides evidence (albeit defeasible) of one's greater value. This is clearly a premise that neither she nor her readers are likely to accept. (shrink)
The article argues that theorists who try to justify 'ought'-claims, i.e., who try to show that a standard of behavior has normative authority, will run into a regress problem. The problem is similar in structure to the familiar regress in the justification of belief. The point of the paper is not skeptical. Rather, the aim is to help theorists better understand the challenges associated with formulating a theory of normative authority.
What makes an ``ought'''' claim authoritative? What makes aparticular norm genuinely reason-giving for an agent? This paper arguesthat normative authority can best be accounted for in terms of thejustification of norms. The main obstacle to such a theory, however, isa regress problem. The worry is that every attempt to offer ajustification for an ``ought'''' claim must appeal to another ``ought''''claim, ad infinitum. The paper argues that vicious regress canbe avoided in practical reasoning in the same way coherentists avoid theproblem in (...) epistemology. Norms are justified by their coherence withother norms. (shrink)
What makes a norm a genuinely authoritative guide to action? For many theorists, the answer takes a foundationalist form, analogous to foundationalism in epistemology. They say that there is at least one norm that is justified in itself. On most versions, the norm is said to be incorrigibly authoritative. All other norms are justified in virtue of their connection with it. This essay argues that all such foundationalist theories of normative authority fail because they cannot give an account of the (...) privileged status of an allegedly foundational norm. (shrink)
Do people deserve a chance to right the wrongs they have committed? Would denying an offender the opportunity to make amends amount to an injustice? There are compelling reasons to grant such a right. However, there are also significant objections. First, a right to make amends potentially undermines the state's right to punish criminal wrongdoers. Secondly, the alleged right threatens to put undue pressure on victims to forgive their abusers. In this essay I argue that these objections can be met (...) and that wrongdoers do indeed have a right to make amends. (shrink)
The recent literature on criminal justice has yielded an intriguing suggestion: that someone who does wrong has a right to make amends. In this essay, I evaluate arguments for and against this claim with regard to cases of both criminal wrongdoing and private wrongs. I conclude that the balance of arguments speaks in favor of a right to make amends. This conclusion has ramifications for the just design of criminal sanctions, and these will also be addressed here.
Our topic is the moral task of righting one’s wrongful actions and the extent to which this should be considered primarily as a task for the wrongdoer alone, an interaction between the wrongdoer and victim, or a more broadly communal act. In considering this question, we are asked to consider what it means for justice to be served with regard to both victim and wrongdoer.
The category of jus post bellum is a welcome addition to discussions of the justice of war. But, despite its handy Latin label, we will argue that it cannot be properly understood merely as a set of corollaries from jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Instead, an acceptable theory of justice in the postwar period will have to draw on a broader set of normative ideas than those that have been the focus of the just war tradition. In this (...) paper, we will argue that norms of political reconciliation provide some of the resources we need to address postwar justice. (shrink)
Stephen L. Pepper argues that lawyers and clients often act together in ways that their moral convictions would prevent them from acting individually. In an attempt to address this problem, I explore the nature of the attorney's responsibility to help her client reach autonomous decisions. To do this, I review the work of some prominent medical ethicists on a parallel to Pepper's problem in doctor-patient relationships.
This essay examines the ethics of boycotting as a social response to injustice or wrongdoing. The boycotts in question are collective actions in which private citizens withdraw from or avoid consumer or cultural interaction with parties perceived to be responsible for some transgression. Whether a particular boycott is justified depends, not only on the reasonableness of the underlying moral critique, but also on what the boycotters are doing in boycotting. The essay considers four possible interpretations of the kind of act (...) in which boycotting consists: the avoidance of complicity, protest speech, social punishment, or social coercion. Each interpretation provides a plausible account of at least some cases of boycotting, yet each raises distinct challenges to justifying boycotting activities. (shrink)
In Punishment and the Moral Emotions, Jeffrie Murphy rejects his earlier, strong endorsements of retributivism. Questioning both our motivations for embracing retributivism and our views about the basis of desert, he now describes himself as a “reluctant retributivist.” In this essay, I argue that Murphy should reject retributivism altogether. Even if we grant that criminals have negative desert, why should we suppose that it is desert of suffering? I argue that it is possible to defend desert-based theories of punishment that (...) reject this view of the object of desert. I consider, but reject, expressivist versions of such a theory. (shrink)
This essay argues that the theory of forgiveness that Jean Hampton presents in FORGIVENESS AND MERCY has been misunderstood and undervalued. By placing the impersonal reactive attitudes at the center of her account of forgiveness, Hampton offers a valuable alternative to the standard view.
What features does a norm have to have such that we really ought to follow it? This paper argues that norms are authoritative when they are justified in a particular sense. However, this brand of justification is not any of those with which we are currently familiar. The authority of norms is not a matter of moral, epistemic or prudential justification. It depends instead on what I call "justification simpliciter." The concept of justification simpliciter is defined and defended in this (...) paper. (shrink)
While Charles Griswold's interpretation of Bishop Butler's theory of forgiveness is an improvement over the standard reading, it leaves Butler unable to distinguish between forgiveness and justice. The emotions and actions that are offered as definitive of forgiveness instead merely show that the agent is not unjust. However, if we refocus our interpretation of Butler, we can see how he might disentangle forgiveness and justice.
Michael J. Zimmerman offers a conceptual analysis of the moral ‘ought’ that focuses on moral decision-making under uncertainty. His central case, originally presented by Frank Jackson, concerns a doctor who must choose among three treatments for a minor ailment. Her evidence suggests that drug B will partially cure her patient, that one of either drug A or C would cure him completely, but that the other drug would kill him. Accepting the intuition that the doctor ought to choose drug B, (...) Zimmerman argues that moral obligation consists in performing the action that is ‘prospectively best,’ that is ‘that which, from the moral point of view, it is most reasonable for the agent to choose’ given the evidence available to her at the time .Zimmerman defends his Prospective View of moral obligation against two main competitors in the long, first chapter of the book. According to the Objective View, a person ought to choose what is, in fact, the best option. The doctor ought to give her patient whichever drug will actually cure him. The fact that the doctor cannot know whether this is drug …. (shrink)
This article explores the forms of moral repair that the wrongdoer has to perform in an attempt to make amends for her past wrongdoing, with a focus on the issues of interpersonal moral repair; that is, what a wrongdoer can do to merit her victim‘s forgiveness and achieve reconciliation with her community. The article argues against the very general demands of atonement that amount to an obligation to stop being someone who commits wrongs—to become a moral saint—and suggests a new (...) form of atonement that is more practical and useful in our everyday life. (shrink)
Many theorists writing on the aftermath of wrongdoing have been influenced by Trudy Govier’s emphasis on interpersonal relationships. But George Sher has recently challenged this talk of relationships. Read descriptively, he argues, claims about the interpersonal effects of wrongdoing are either exaggerated or false. Read normatively, relationships add nothing to more traditional moral theory. In this essay, I argue that Govier’s relational framework both avoids Sher’s dilemma and enables her to develop the notion of respect for persons in ways that (...) improve upon traditional Kantian discussions. (shrink)
How do we punish others socially, and should we do so? In her 2018 Descartes Lectures for Tilburg University, Linda Radzik explores the informal methods ordinary people use to enforce moral norms, such as telling people off, boycotting businesses, and publicly shaming wrongdoers on social media. Over three lectures, Radzik develops an account of what social punishment is, why it is sometimes permissible, and when it must be withheld. She argues that the proper aim of social punishment is to put (...) moral pressure on wrongdoers to make amends. Yet the permissibility of applying such pressure turns on the tension between individual desert and social good, as well as the possession of an authority to punish. Responses from Christopher Bennett, George Sher and Glen Pettigrove challenge Radzik's account of social punishment while also offering alternative perspectives on the possible meanings of our responses to wrongdoing. Radzik replies in the closing essay. (shrink)
We sometimes witness events that might be dangerous (e.g. that might end in someone being abused) but that might not be. These cases involve various kinds of uncertainty. How does a morally responsible bystander respond? This essay describes and evaluates Active Bystander training programs.