Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Praise and blame

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L075-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Praise and blame are philosophically interesting partly because, despite appearances, they are not simple opposites, but mainly because there are significant disagreements about whether, and when, they can be justified. The issue of justification connects praise and blame with some of philosophy’s most central concerns: justice, desert and free will.

Disagreements about the justification of praise and blame tend to take two forms. In one the disagreement is about whether praise and blame can be justified without being deserved. Utilitarians, who argue that the rightness of praise and blame does not depend on desert, but on their contributing to the level of happiness, are opposed by those who believe that justice is of overriding value.

In its second form, the disagreement is about the essential requirements for deserving praise and blame. Among the conditions which have been proposed as essential are voluntariness (outlined originally by Aristotle), acting from the motive of duty (for praiseworthiness), and (usually in connection with blameworthiness) being free in a sense which is incompatible with determinism (the thesis that every event has a necessitating cause). Kant, who argued for both of the last two requirements, is a key figure in this debate.

Citing this article:
Klein, Martha. Praise and blame, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L075-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles