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Title: On the Nature of Guilt and Shame
Authors: Maley, Corey J.
Advisors: Leslie, Sarah-Jane
Harman, Gilbert
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: guilt
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: When we and others make mistakes, moral or otherwise, talk of guilt and shame is often close behind. Guilt and shame frequently co-occur in everyday language, enough so that they are often not distinguished from one another. However, careful investigation shows several ways in which the two are quite different. Guilt and shame are entirely different kinds of affective states, and as such, comparisons between the two are not straightforward. Guilt allows for variations in emotional phenomenology that shame does not, making certain generalizations about the feeling of guilt very difficult. Shame is more basic, is found in all cultures, has analogs in non-human animals; guilt has none of these features. I propose that the best analysis of the feeling of guilt is that it is simply feeling as if one has violated a norm that one cares about. Shame, on the other hand, is the emotion of having been dominated, or subjugated. Consideration of these differences offers some clarity about the nature of guilt and shame, and explains some of the disagreement found among prior conceptions of each. Furthermore, a clearer conception of guilt and shame is useful to theorists interested in the relationship of these affective states to questions of morality.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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