Shame is a Jekyll-and-Hyde emotion--it can be morally valuable, but it also has a dark side. Thomason presents a philosophically rigorous and nuanced account of shame that accommodates its harmful and helpful aspects. Thomason argues that despite its obvious drawbacks and moral ambiguity, shame's place in our lives is essential.
Shame is most frequently defined as the emotion we feel when we fail to live up to standards, norms, or ideals. I argue that this definition is flawed because it cannot explain some of the most paradigmatic features of shame. Agents often respond to shame with violence, but if shame is the painful feeling of failing to live up to an ideal, this response is unintelligible. I offer a new account of shame that can explain the link between shame and (...) violence. On my view, shame arises out of a tension between our identity and our self-conception: those things about which we feel shame are part of our identities, but they are not part of our self-conception. I conclude by arguing that this account of shame is a valuable moral emotion. (shrink)
It is common to think that we would be morally better people if we never felt envy. Recently, some philosophers have rejected this conclusion by arguing that envy can often be directed toward unfairness or inequality. As such, they conclude that we should not suppress our feelings of envy. I argue, however, that these defenses only show that envy is sometimes morally permissible. In order to show that we would not be better off without envy, we must show how envy (...) is not merely morally permissible, but morally valuable. Here I provide a defense of envy's moral value. I argue that feelings of envy are integral to the value that moral agents place on the goods and talents that they judge to be central to a worthwhile life. (shrink)
One way of understanding Kant’s views about moral emotions is the cultivation view. On this view, emotions play a role in Kantian morality provided they are properly cultivated. I evince a sceptical position about the cultivation view. First, I show that the textual evidence in support of cultivation is ambiguous. I then provide an account of emotions in Kant’s theory that explains both his positive and negative views about them. Emotions capture our attention such that they both disrupt the mind’s (...) composure and serve as a surrogate for reason. As such, Kant cannot recommend that we cultivate our emotions. (shrink)
Attitudes like shame and contempt seem to be at odds with basic tenets of Kantian moral theory. I argue on the contrary that both attitudes play a central role in Kantian morality. Shame and contempt are attitudes that protect our love of honour, or the esteem we have for ourselves as moral persons. The question arises: how are these attitudes compatible with Kant's claim that all persons deserve respect? I argue that the proper object of shame and contempt is not (...) the humanity within a person, but rather her self-conceit, or the false esteem that competes with love of honour. (shrink)
This new essay collection edited by Eric Watkins features distinguished and established scholars, and it will be an attractive volume for those who work in the field. The essays are divided under three headings: Part I contains essays on agency, Part II features essays on freedom, and Part III is dedicated to essays on persons. An essay by Karl Ameriks on Kant’s work “The End of All Things” concludes the collection. Most of the essays in the collection were originally presented (...) in early form at the conference “Agency, Persons, and Kant” in 2016, which was held in honor of Karl Ameriks. Although there are mentions of Ameriks’s work in the essays, the contributions largely do not discuss his work in detail. Rather... (shrink)
Meira Levinson argues for a robust civics education that models the practices of good citizenship. One of the elements of that civics education is teaching students how to take up the perspectives of others. The question arises: how do we teach students and citizens alike to take up the perspectives of others? Here I argue that we can make sense of perspective-taking by appealing to Rawls’s notion of public reason as an ideal. I conclude by arguing that a commitment to (...) the ideal of public reason can help identify and resist oppression and marginalization. (shrink)
Despite the fact that emotions have become an important part of Kant scholarship in the last thirty years and counting, few books are devoted to the topic. Borges's book remedies this lacuna. Kant scholars who are familiar with her work will be happy to see her account of emotions connected to other discussions of Kantian moral psychology.The book begins with a general account of actions, reasons, and causes. Given this background, Borges then raises the question: what role do emotions play (...) in this framework? Chapters 2, 3, and 4 explain how emotions function in Kant's moral psychology. One of the main theses is that Kant has "a very colorful, wide range of emotions, which cannot be captured by one... (shrink)
Several philosophers who argue that forgiveness is an important virtue also wish to maintain the moral value of retributive emotions that forgiveness is meant to overcome. As such, these accounts explicate forgiveness as an Aristotelian mean between too much resentment and too little resentment. I argue that such an account ends up making forgiveness superfluous: it turns out that the forgiving person is not praised for a greater willingness to let go of her resentment, but rather for her fairness or (...) good judgment. I conclude by arguing that the virtue of fair-mindedness is more compatible with maintaining the value of the retributive emotions than the virtue of forgiveness. (shrink)
The use of child soldiers in armed conflict is an increasing global concern. Although philosophers have examined whether child soldiers can be considered combatants in war, much less attention has been paid to their moral responsibility. While it is tempting to think of them as having diminished or limited responsibility, child soldiers often report feeling guilt for the wrongs they commit. Here I argue that their feelings of guilt are both intelligible and morally appropriate. The feelings of guilt that child (...) soldiers experience are not self-censure; rather their guilt arises from their attempts to come to terms with what they see as their own morally ambiguous motives. Their guilt is appropriate because it reaffirms their commitment to morality and facilitates their self-forgiveness. (shrink)
Spite is typically considered a vicious emotion that causes us to engage in petty, vindictive, and sometimes self-destructive behavior. Even though it has this bad reputation, I will argue that spite is a reactive attitude. Spite is emotional defiance of another’s command: to spite you, I will do something exactly because you told me not to. Our liability to feelings of spite presupposes that we recognize others as having practical authority, which is why it qualifies as a reactive attitude. I (...) conclude by offering conditions under which spite can be justified and unjustified. (shrink)
Kant’s conception of mental illness is unlikely to satisfy contemporary readers. His classifications of mental illness are often fluid and ambiguous, and he seems to attribute to human beings at least some responsibility for preventing mental illness. In spite of these apparent disadvantages, I argue that Kant’s account of mental illness can be illuminating to his views about the normative dimensions of human cognition. In contrast to current understandings of mental illness, Kant’s account is what I refer to as “non-pathological.” (...) That is, most mental illnesses are for Kant continuous with normally functioning cognition. Someone with a healthy reason can easily fall into mental illness and someone with mental illness can (perhaps not as easily) re-establish healthy reason. By accepting a non-pathological definition of mental illness, it follows for Kant that humans have more agency and responsibility regarding their mental health than current views allow, which explains why several of his writings aim to prescribe a “diet of the mind” (2:271). Contrary to popular readings of Kant as a champion of reason’s power, Kant’s conception of mental illness shows that he recognizes how fragile human reason can be. (shrink)
One of the more notorious passages in Kant occurs in the Doctrine of Right where he claims that ‘bloodguilt’ will cling to members of a dissolving society if they fail to execute the last murderer. Although this is the most famous, bloodguilt appears in three other passages in Kant’s writings. These have received little attention in Kant scholarship. In this article, I examine these other passages and argue that bloodguilt functions as a symbol for the demandingness of justice. I then (...) offer a sympathetic interpretation of the passage from the Doctrine of Right. (shrink)
Kant typically is not identified with the tradition of virtue epistemology. Although he may not be a virtue epistemologist in a strict sense, I suggest that intellectual virtues and vices play a key role in his epistemology. Specifically, Kant identifies a serious intellectual vice that threatens to undermine reason, namely enthusiasm (Schwärmerei). Enthusiasts become so enamored with their own thinking that they refuse to subject reason to self-critique. The particular danger of enthusiasm is that reason colludes in its own destruction: (...) enthusiasm occurs when self-conceit and reason’s desire to transcend its boundaries mutually reinforce each other. I conclude by sketching an account of Kantian intellectual virtue that is consistent with Kantian moral virtue. (shrink)
In Naked, Krista K. Thomason offers a multi-faceted account of shame, covering its nature as an emotion, its positive and negative roles in moral life, its association with violence, and its provocation through invitations to shame, public shaming, and stigmatization. Along the way, she reflects on a range of examples drawn from literature, memoirs, journalism, and her own imagination. She also considers alternative views at length, draws a wealth of important distinctions, and articulates many of the most intuitive (...) objections to her own view in order to defend it more thoroughly. As such, the book’s subtitle, The Dark Side of Shame and Moral Life, undersells its scope and ambition. This is an exploration not just of shame’s dark side but a kaleidoscopic appreciation of both the nature and the (dis)value of shame and shaming. Somewhat undercutting this breadth, Thomason relies heavily on Kantian intuitions about equal respect and recognition for persons and their dignity; in several key arguments, she tells us to disregard predictable and systematic consequences of emotions, practices, and institutions so that we can better focus on their constitutive or internal aspects. Of course, every philosopher inevitably brings theoretical commitments to bear when writing about moral psychology, but non-Kantian readers should be forewarned that — despite the fact that Thomason says that she does “not assume any particular moral theory” — her ethical conclusions about shaming and stigmatizing are likely to be plausible only to those who are already snugly tied into a web of “Kantian commitments” (p. 9). (shrink)
Kant’s non-voluntarist conception of political obligation has led some philosophers to argue that he would reject self-government rights for indigenous peoples. Some recent scholarship suggests, however, that Kant’s critique of colonialism provides an argument in favor of granting self-government rights. Here I argue for a stronger conclusion: Kantian political theory not only can but must include sovereignty for indigenous peoples. Normally these rights are considered redress for historic injustice. On a Kantian view, however, I argue that they are not remedial. (...) Sovereignty rights are a necessary part of establishing perpetual peace. By failing to acknowledge the sovereignty of native groups, states once guilty of imperialism leave open the in principle possibility for future violence, even though no current conflict exists. Only in recognizing self-government rights can states truly commit to the cosmopolitan ideal. (shrink)
"Naked" is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in shame and its role in morality. The book is particularly timely given how common public shaming has become in online settings. Krista K. Thomason argues that, even though shame is a negative emotion with potentially damaging consequences, its dark side is outweighed by its moral benefits insofar as shame is constitutive of desirable moral commitments. According to the author, being liable to shame is constitutive of respecting other people’s points (...) of view, acknowledging others’ moral standing, and accepting that our identities are not only set by what we think of ourselves, but also by factors outside of our control that include our personal histories and other people’s opinions of us. (shrink)
What is an assurance? What do we do when we claim to know? Krista Lawlor offers an original account based on the work of J. L. Austin. She addresses challenges to contextualist semantic theories; resolves closure-based skeptical paradoxes; and helps us tread the line between acknowledging our fallibility and skepticism.
This article investigates corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an institution within UK multi-national corporations (MNCs). In the context of the literature on the institutionalization of CSR and on critical CSR, it presents two main findings. First, it contributes to the CSR mainstream literature by confirming that CSR has not only become institutionalized in society but that a form of this institution is also present within MNCs. Secondly, it contributes to the critical CSR literature by suggesting that unlike broader notions of (...) CSR shared between multiple stakeholders, MNCs practise a form of CSR that undermines the broader stakeholder concept. By increasingly focusing on strategic forms of CSR activity, MNCs are moving away from a societal understanding of CSR that focuses on redressing the impacts of their operations through stakeholder concerns, back to any activity that supports traditional business imperatives. The implications of this shift are considered using institutional theory to evaluate macro-institutional pressures for CSR activity and the agency of powerful incumbents in the contested field of CSR. (shrink)
Stakeholder theory has been an incredibly powerful tool for understanding and improving organisations, and their relationship with other actors in society. That these critical ideas are now accepted within mainstream business is due in no small part to the influence of stakeholder theory. However, improvements to stakeholder engagement through stakeholder theory have tended to help stakeholders who are already somewhat powerful within organisational settings, while those who are less powerful continue to be marginalised and routinely ignored. In this paper, we (...) argue that one possible obstacle preventing less powerful stakeholders from speaking up and/or being heard by organisations is found at the ontological level, where we have identified an ‘essentialist self’ underpinning the stakeholder concept. By deconstructing the stakeholder concept through how it is defined, discussed and debated, and linking this back to the practical consequences of the theory for the least powerful stakeholders, we are able to make three contributions. One, through our deconstruction, it is clear that at an ontological level, stakeholder theory is underpinned by an implicit, and problematic, assumption of the ‘essentialist self’, where the organisation is treated as the ‘natural, universal self’, and anyone not closely resembling this narrow view of self is treated as ‘other’. Two, we build on the work of authors such as Wicks et al. :475–497, 1994), who highlight the need for consideration of the self within stakeholder theory. We thus take our findings from contribution one and begin to build a more holistic view of the self within the stakeholder concept, where each self is encouraged to recognise common selves outside and inside the corporation. Third, we link the theoretical discussion to the practical by discussing some imperfect ways in which a more holistic, enriched stakeholder concept might begin to help mitigate marginalisation for some stakeholders. (shrink)
This book defends a novel theory of singular concepts, emphasizing the pragmatic requirements of singular concept possession and arguing that these requirements must be understood to institute traditions and policies of thought.
Purpose Although current literature assumes positive outcomes for stakeholders resulting from an increase in power associated with CSR, this research suggests that this increase can lead to conflict within organizations, resulting in almost complete inactivity on CSR. Methods A Single in-depth case study, focusing on power as an embedded concept. Results Empirical evidence is used to demonstrate how some actors use CSR to improve their own positions within an organization. Resource dependence theory is used to highlight why this may be (...) a more significant concern for CSR. Conclusions Increasing power for CSR has the potential to offer actors associated with it increased personal power, and thus can attract opportunistic actors with little interest in realizing the benefits of CSR for the company and its stakeholders. Thus power can be an impediment to furthering CSR strategy and activities at the individual and organizational level. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker maintains that testimonial responsibility is the proper corrective to testimonial injustice. She proposes a perceptual-like “testimonial sensibility” to explain the transmission of knowledge through testimony. This sensibility is the means by which a hearer perceives an interlocutor's credibility level. When prejudice causes a hearer to inappropriately deflate the credibility attributed to a speaker, the sensibility may have functioned unreliably. Testimonial responsibility, she claims, will make the capacity reliable by reinflating credibility levels to their proper degree. I argue that (...) testimonial sensitivity may be or involve “mindreading,” the cognitive capacity by which we predict human behavior and explain it in terms of mental states. Further, I claim that, if testimonial sensibility is or involves mindreading, and mindreading is a function of brain processes, testimonial injustice cannot be corrected by testimonial responsibility. This is because 1) it appears to rely on conscious awareness of prejudice, whereas much bias occurs implicitly, and 2) it works at the individual level, whereas testimonial injustice occurs both individually and socially. I argue that the remedy for testimonial injustice is, instead, engaging in social efforts that work below the level of consciousness. (shrink)
MDR-TB and admission to isolation can induce a situation in which individuals are normless, unable to achieve the social goals that they have learned to pursue. Described as anomie, this situation can induce deviant behaviour. Addressing the psychosocial ethics of MDR-TB and isolation, this paper responds to the call for consideration of resource allocation and liberty.
Thomason (1979/2010)'s argument against competence psychologism in semantics envisages a representation of a subject's competence as follows: he understands his own language in the sense that he can identify the semantic content of each of its sentences, which requires that the relation between expression and content be recursive. Then if the scientist constructs a theory that is meant to represent the body of the subject's beliefs, construed as assent to the content of the pertinent sentences, and that theory satisfies (...) certain 'natural assumptions', then it implies that the subject is inconsistent if the beliefs include arithmetic. I challenge the result by insisting that the motivation for Thomason's principle (ii), via Moore's Paradox, leads to a more complex representation, in which stating the facts and expressing one's beliefs are treated differently. Certain logical connections among expressions of assent, and between expression and statement, are a matter of consequence on pain of pragmatic incoherence, not consequence on pain of classical logical inconsistency. But while this salvages the possibility that a modification of the above sort of representation could be adequate, Thomason's devastating conclusion returns if the scientist identifies himself as the subject of that representation, even when paying heed to the requirement of pragmatic coherence of the sort highlighted by Moore's Paradox. (shrink)
People often become confused, mistaking one thing for another, or taking two things to be the same. How should we assign semantic values to confused statements? Recently, philosophers have taken a pessimistic view of confusion, arguing that understanding confused belief demands significant departure from our normal interpretive practice. I argue for optimism. Our semantic treatment of confusion can be a lot like our semantic treatment of empty names. Surprisingly, perhaps, the resulting semantics lets us keep in place more of our (...) everyday interpretive practices in the face of confused belief. (shrink)