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First meeting of the Philosophy and Public Affairs seminar in 2023-24 is 20 September 2023, Faculteitskamer OTM, 16:00 - 18:00. Organized by Tijn Smits ( | Speaker: Dr. Philip Robichaud (VU) | Commentator: Dr. Thomas Nys (UvA)
Event details of The Primacy of Private Blame
20 September 2023
16:00 -18:00

Recurring Zoom Link:

Dr. Philip Robichaud is Associate Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. There, he coordinates and teaches in the philosophy side of the PPE programme. His research concentrates on moral responsibility, connected to topics such as climate change, as well as nudging under the past VENI project ‘Nudging Responsibly: Implications of Choice Architecture on Responsibility Attributions’.

The Primacy of Private Blame

Recent work on the nature and appropriateness conditions of blame takes expressed, interpersonal blame as paradigmatic. Accounts of the function and justification of blame understand blame as a primarily “public” affair. Examples include recent functionalist characterizations of blame as a “costly signal” and instrumentalist justifications of blaming practices that locate the value of blaming in its effects on the blamee. Intrigued by the observation that most blame seems to occur privately, I propose a reorientation of the debate that takes private blame as the primary phenomenon. I develop two versions of the primacy of private blame thesis, one which takes private blame as the paradigm phenomenon and then extends the analysis to cover public blame, and another which takes all blame to be private blame. I defend the latter and canvass several realignments in related debates that would follow once we come to grips with private blame’s primacy.