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Type: Thesis
Title: To Blame or Not to Blame: Respect, Fittingness, and Standing
Author: Phillips, Henry Littleton
Issue Date: 2022
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : Philosophy
Abstract: Much of our moral life happens after things go wrong. When we wrong someone or are wronged ourselves, at least sometimes, it will be appropriate for us to blame and be blamed. Often, when asking whether we should blame someone, or whether our blame is appropriate, we only need to ask questions about the object of blame. That is, we only need to ask whether that person is blameworthy. However, there are some cases where this is not enough. For example, sometimes blame seems inappropriate because the blamer is hypocritical, even though the object of their blame is blameworthy. When this happens, we often say that the blamer lacks the standing to blame. However, it is hard to pin down what we mean by this. This is not helped by the fact that there are two further questions we can ask when talking about standing to blame. First, in which substantive cases does someone have or lack the standing to blame? Second, what is the property they possess when they have the standing to blame? Call the first the Substantive Question about standing to blame, and the second the Property Question about standing to blame. In this thesis, I hope to provide a novel answer to both of these questions. To answer the Substantive Question, I argue that we lack standing to blame when we are hypocritical or not relevantly involved in the wrongdoing. To answer the Property Question, I argue that what goes wrong when someone lacks the standing to blame is that their blame is unfitting because of certain facts about them. There have been several attempts to capture this thought. However, none have been able to distinguish between the different ways blame can be inappropriate. I aim to give a plausible solution to this problem by appealing to recent work done on the fittingness relation. I argue that this relation holds between three relata: an object, a response, and a responder. Sometimes there is a restriction on who can occupy the responder-place. The relation between blamer, blame, and the blameworthy is clearly an instance of the fittingness relation. Therefore, we can claim that talk of standing to blame is just talk about whether someone can appropriately occupy the responder-place. When they can, we say that they have the standing to blame. When they cannot, we say that they lack it.
Advisor: Gerrans, Philip
Cullity, Garrett
Solz, Steven
Dissertation Note: Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities: Philosophy, 2022
Keywords: Blame
Standing to blame
Fittingness and Standing
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