Annals of Ethics
Online ISSN : 2434-4699
Blame based on Relation
Critique and Defense of T. Scanlon’s Interpretation of Blame
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2019 Volume 68 Pages 231-245


 T. Scanlon showed his “interpretation” of blame in his book Moral Dimensions in 2008. It gave a tremendous boost to debates on blame and many philosophers are getting to theorize their own account by criticizing and comparing to his theory. A preferable reason for that is that it has good explanatory force. It can explain many aspects which phenomena of blame have and give excellent normative foundation to regulate blaming. On the other side, there is an unpreferable reason. It is that his conception of blame seems strange to other philosophers. He denies the emotional aspect, ex. resentment or indignation, as the main element of blame. He instead makes blame depend on relation(ex. friends, families or fellows in business)and argues that to blame is to revise the relationship between blamer and the blamed.  In this paper, I aim to introduce his theory, to analyze various critiques of it, and to defend it. There are three kinds of problems in his theory. The first is about his conception of the blame. According to critics, his interpretation includes wrong phenomena as blame and excludes genuine phenomena from blame. The second problem is about his conception of relation. Some opponents argue that relation defined by him seems to be so vulnerable that just one blame could break the relation. They insist that relation should be stronger because blaming is very common and usual to us. The last one is about his conception of morality. He presupposes “moral relation” correspond to moral blame. However, there seems no relation such a thing, to critics. They criticize that it is difficult for him to explain morality between strangers who do not have relational mutuality.  I resolve some problems by correcting misunderstandings about his main conceptions. To other problems, I respond by reconsidering our assumption of priority of morality to non-moral value. I finally seek the successful interpretation of Scanlon’s theory in terms of non-moral, personal or individual relation.

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