The Nature and Ethics of Blame



Blame is usually discussed in the context of the free will problem, but recently moral philosophers have begun to examine it on its own terms. If, as many suppose, free will is to be understood as the control relevant to moral responsibility, and moral responsibility is to be understood in terms of whether blame is appropriate, then an independent inquiry into the nature and ethics of blame will be essential to solving (and, perhaps, even fully understanding) the free will problem. In this article we first survey and categorize recent accounts of the nature of blame – is it action, belief, emotion, desire, or something else? – and then we look at several proposed requirements on appropriate blame that look beyond the transgressor himself, considerations that will form part of a full account of the ethics of blame.