Who Can I Blame?

Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen

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The paper addresses the case when one’s self proves itself to be a hindrance in performing certain actions successfully if their validity hinges on the acknowledgement of others, thus seemingly limiting the scope of one’s autonomy. Picking out our practice of blaming, it is argued that this practice is shaped by the view that, metaphorically speaking, a person with a beam in her own eye is in no position to complain about the mote in the eye of another. Such a complaint would involve a distinctive kind of incoherence (one that can also be found in relation to praise). This incoherence has received little attention from moral philosophers, but incoherent blame and praise may be inappropriate for two rather different reasons. First, they might involve the non-moral inappropriateness of incoherent applications of the standards appealed to. This form of inappropriateness can occur outside morality and is not distinctively moral in nature. Second, incoherent blame and praise are often morally inappropriate because they demean others in that the incoherent appraiser elevates herself above her blamee (praisee) by presenting the latter in an unwarrantedly negative light, comparatively speaking. The first kind of inappropriateness does not explain the second.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAutonomy and the Self
EditorsMichael Kühler, Nadja Jelinek
Place of PublicationDordrecht, London
Publication date2013
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-4788-3
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-4789-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013
SeriesPhilosophical Studies Series

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