In most Western societies, guilt is widely regarded as a vital moral emotion. In addition to playing a central role in moral development and progress, many take the capacity to feel guilt as a defining feature of morality itself: no truly moral person escapes the pang of guilt when she has done something wrong. But proponents of guilt's importance face important challenges, such as distinguishing healthy from pathological forms of guilt, and accounting for the fact that not all cultures value guilt in the same way, if at all. In this volume, philosophers and psychologists come together to think more systematically about the nature and value of guilt. The book begins with chapters on the biological origins and psychological nature of guilt and moves on to discuss the culturally enriched conceptions of guilt and its value that we find in various eastern and western philosophic traditions. In addition, numerous chapters discuss healthy or morally valuable forms guilt and their pathological or irrational shadows.
Introduction: A Framework for Thinking about Guilt and its Value / Part I: Understanding Guilt / 1. On the distinction between shame and guilt Heidi Maibom / 2. Guilt and Empathy: A Study of the Psychopaths Emotional Deficits John Deigh / 3. What Guilt is Not Gil Harman & Corey Maley / 4. The Evolution of Guilt and Its Non-Instrumental Enactments Blaine Fowers / 5. Guilt as an Internalized Social Emotion: Theoretical Resolution and Empirical Evidence Roger Giner-Sorollaand Darren McGee / 6. Heteronomous Guilt Raffaele Rodogno Part II: Evaluating Guilt / 7. A Thomist Argument for the Conscience Principle Anne Jeffery / 8. Conscience and Guilt: Christianity, Kant, and Nietzsche on moral psychology Sophie-Grace Chappell / 9. Kant on Conscience and Self-Knowledge, and Guilt and Shame Laura Papish / 10. Unacceptable Guilt: Moral Perfectionism and Deontological Guilt in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Juliette Vazard & Julien Deonna / 11. Nietzsche on the Possibility and Value of Guilt-free Societies Reid Blackman / 12. Guilt, Shame, and Confucian Moral Psychology Bongrae Seok / Part III: Guilt and Temporal Agency / 13. The Irrationality of Anticipatory Guilt Ali Kerr / 14. Past-, Present- and Future-Oriented Dimensions of Guilt Heidy Meriste
Bradford Cokelet is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kansas
Corey J. Maley (PhD) is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kansas
This is a valuable volume that should interest philosophers and psychologists working at the intersection of their two fields.
The editors of this fine volume have put together and introduced a superb group of philosophers and psychologists who offer careful and revealing descriptions and analyses of the nature, function, and value of guilt. It contains excellent discussions about how best to conceptualize guilt that are not only philosophically revealing, but also practically helpful for psychological research—for example, whether guilt is an emotion or a feeling, and whether one feels guilty about the harm one may have done or about being the agent of such harm. These and other issues are treated with great care and insight throughout, often with an eye to greater theoretical accuracy and precision as well as the potential for practical and experimental improvement.
The Moral Psychology of Guilt continues Rowman & Littlefield’s excellent series on the moral psychology of emotions, serving up several valuable new cross-disciplinary essays on the nature of guilt, its role in our lives, and how we should evaluate it. It is an important new resource for all those interested in the moral emotions, and I strongly recommend it.