Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Keywords

Herbert Morris, Moral guilt, Nonmoral guilt, Theories of punishment, Shaming penalties

Disciplines

Criminal Law | Ethics and Political Philosophy

Abstract

Imagine you have committed a crime. You might experience any number of emotional responses to what you've done, ranging from self-satisfaction to self-disgust. But however you do feel, how should you feel? The question seems especially appropriate for a conference honoring Professor Herbert Morris and celebrating his work, for no one has shed light more on the moral emotions of the criminal law. The line of thought that follows owes Professor Morris a large and obvious debt.

So, once again, how should you feel when you have committed a criminal wrong? "Guilty" comes immediately to mind. But guilt is not the only emotion that plays a part in the criminal law. For even though guilt is the right moral emotion for some wrongdoers to experience, guilt can be either moral or nonmoral. Moreover, some wrongdoers should experience not guilt, but shame. "Guilty" is the right verdict in some cases, but in others the right verdict is "shameful." Part II describes the circumstances under which criminal wrongdoers should experience guilt--moral, nonmoral, or both. Part III describes the circumstances under which criminal wrongdoers should experience shame. But what difference does all this make? Why should we care about the moral emotions a wrongdoer experiences in the wake of his wrongdoing? The full answer comes in Part IV.

Publication Citation

Published in: Quinnipiac Law Review, vol. 22, no. 1 (2003).