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Title: Blame, Punishment, and Standing: Legal and Philosophical Dimensions
Authors: Preston, Samuel J.
Advisors: Rosen, Gideon
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Subjects: Ethics
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Philosophers interested in blame typically focus on blameworthiness, i.e., the conditions under which an agent is an appropriate target of blame and punishment. But no less important to our understanding of blame is standing, i.e., the conditions an agent must meet to blame and punish appropriately. This dissertation argues that by focusing on standing, we can solve perennial problems in the theory of punishment and understand blame in a fuller light. The dissertation is in two parts. The first, chapter 1, is targeted at legal as well as philosophical audiences. It argues that the standing to blame offers the best explanation for the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule in American criminal procedure. This rule, which requires unconstitutionally obtained evidence to be excluded from criminal trial, is best understood as a mechanism to obviate criminal convictions that cannot support the state’s standing to blame, and thus cannot serve as the basis for legitimate punishment. The chapter develops this argument into a comprehensive theory of the exclusionary rule that purports to better explain its doctrinal contours and more clearly elucidate its foundations than any extant, alternative account. The second part, which spans chapters 2 through 5, is targeted at philosophers. Chapter 2 argues that many facts that can undermine blame’s appropriateness have nothing to do with the target’s blameworthiness. They include the blamer’s hypocrisy or complicity in the wrongdoing at issue. A satisfactory account of blame must explain why all these considerations are relevant to blame’s appropriateness, and no account that fixates on blameworthiness alone can do so. Chapter 3 puts forward a novel view of blame that purports to meet this burden. The view, dubbed Contractualism about Blame, claims that blame’s appropriateness turns on the contractualist justifiability of principles that permit the blamer to subject her target to a kind of punitive treatment. Chapter 4 then uses this framework to explain why hypocrisy can undermine the standing to blame, and chapter 5 uses the framework to identify the epistemic requirements a blamer must meet for her blame to be appropriate.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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