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 Bradford Cokelet & Corey Maley / Section I: The Nature and Measurement of Guilt / 1. The Feeling of Guilt Corey Maley & Gilbert Harman / 2. On the Distinction Between Shame and GuiltHeidi L. Maibom / 3. Empathy and Conscience: An Essay on Guilt John Deigh / 4. Against Exclusively Retrospective Guilt Heidy Meriste / 5. Anticipatory Guilt Alison Duncan Kerr / Section II: Understanding Guilt and Its Functions / 6. The Evolution of Guilt and Its Non-Instrumental Enactments Blaine J. Fowers / 7. Improving Our Understanding of Guilt by Focusing on Its (Inter)personal Consequences Ilona E. De Hooge / 8. How Guilt Serves Social Functions From Within Darren McGee&Roger Giner-Sorolla / 9. One Reactive Attitude to Rule Them All Nicholas Sars / Section III: Evaluating Guilt / 10. Darker sides of guilt: The case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Juliette Vazard & Julien Deonna / 11. Nietzsche’s Repudiation of Guilt Reid Blackman / 12. Conscience and Guilt from St Paul to Nietzsche Sophie-Grace Chappell / 13. A Thomistic View of Conscience and Guilt Anne Jeffrey / 14. Kant and Williams on Guilt, Shame, and the Morality System Laura Papish / 15. Moral Autonomy and Relationality of Confucian Shame: Beyond Western Guilt and Shame Bongrae Seok
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.