Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Shame : in defence of an essential moral emotion
Author: Turnbull, Daniel James
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
I argue that shame is an essential moral emotion, and that the capacity to feel shame is vital to allow us to pick out certain types of moral value. I do this by sketching out a general role for moral emotions, distinguishing shame from other moral emotions, notably guilt, and then arguing that shame has a distinctive role to play as a moral emotion that cannot be played by guilt. By marking out a key role for the emotions in moral life, I am able to address two key concerns about moral judgement. First, I am able to explain how we overcome frame problems, allowing us to notice and appropriately conceptualise moral concerns, against a backdrop of everyday life. Second, I can give an account of the apparent intrinsically-motivating nature of moral judgements. Shame, in central cases, is based on self-assessments of inadequacy; we judge ourselves to be less than we should be. This is contrasted with guilt, which centres on judgements of transgression against moral norms. It is also contrasted with embarrassment and humiliation, neither of which are primarily moral emotions. Shame has a distinctive role to play as a moral emotion. It is capable of picking out cases of moral value that guilt cannot; in particular, supererogatory value and cases of wrongdoing by collectives, in the absence of individual culpability. Pace the claims of numerous psychologists and philosophers, shame is not necessarily a dangerous emotion; rather, only certain types of shame have the potential to do damage to those experiencing them. Situationist arguments threaten the role of shame as a moral emotion, by suggesting that there are no robust character traits; these claims are mistaken. Therefore, I am able to sustain the conclusion that shame has a vital role to play in moral life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available