Mike Zhao, Research Affiliate, will be giving a talk titled: "Guilt Without Perceived Wrongdoing" on Friday, January 31. For more information on Mike, please visit his website.
According to the received account of guilt, one cannot feel guilt unless one takes oneself to have done something morally wrong. This might just sound obvious; it might seem tautological to say that guilt is a response to being guilty of wrongdoing. But if we look at the cases in which ordinary people describe themselves as feeling "guilt," we see that perceived wrongdoing is often absent: people feel guilt about things that their country or ancestors have done, about violating non-moral norms, and about surviving things that others did not. In this talk, I argue against the received account of guilt, focusing on the case of guilt about mere causal responsibility for some harm to others. I then propose a novel account of guilt that is compatible with guilt about mere causal responsibility.