Would We Be Better Off Without Blame?


The reality is that we are all at best compromised agents, whether by biology, social circumstance, or brute luck. The differences among us are differences of degree that do not admit of categorical division into the normal and the abnormal. A morally serious inquiry into the requisite meaning of free will needs to face some basic facts….

We have gotten nothing from our 40-year blame fest except the guilty pleasure of reproaching others for acts that, but for the grace of God, or luck, or social or biological forces, we might well have committed ourselves. Our schools are broken, a new generation of kids has been lost, our prisons are crammed with petty offenders whose lives we have ruined in the name of a war on drugs that has been a total failure. And judging from the current mood of the country, the guilty pleasure of blaming others has not proved all that pleasurable.  

That’s Barbara Fried in her essay “Beyond Blame” in The Boston Review. The essay is accompanied by responses from Christine M. KorsgaardErin KellyAdriaan LanniMike Konczal,Paul BloomGideon RosenBrian LeiterGeorge Sher, and T. M. Scanlon, with a reply by Fried.

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