Empathetic Blame: Moral Evaluation in the Face of Luck
In this thesis I offer a new interpretation of blame and criticism rooted in P.F. Strawson's distinction between the subjective and objective points of view. In Part I, I use the problems presented by circumstantial moral luck to expose the inadequacy of standard intuitions about what's required to blame another. Proposed solutions to these issues, I argue, fall into the trap of viewing blame as the outgrowth of a metaphysical status instead of an action that cannot be detached from interpersonal relationships. In Part II I generate a novel interpretation based on the projects of Hume, Strawson, and Scanlon, which posits blame as an attitude forming out of self-reflection and empathy, and criticism as a belief forming out of comparison to a rigid standard. I then elaborate on the phenomenology of such a blame act and go over the consequences my interpretation would have, including a world with substantially less blaming that would eschew vague metaphysical questions and recognize the limitations of imposing moral standards on those who have faced different circumstances.