Feeling Badly Is Not Good Enough: a Reply to Fritz and Miller

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Kyle Fritz and Daniel Miller’s (2019) reply to my (2018) article helpfully clarifies their position and our main points of disagreement. Their view is that those who blame hypocritically lack the right to blame for a violation of some moral norm N in virtue of having an unfair disposition to blame others, but not themselves, for violations of N. This view raises two key questions. First, are there instances of hypocritical blame that do not involve an unfair differential blaming disposition? Second, if the answer to the first question is Yes, do hypocritical blamers of this kind lack the right to blame? In this paper, I argue that the answer to the first question is Yes. Given this, Fritz and Miller’s account faces serious problems regardless of whether the answer to the second question is Yes or No.

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  1. 1.

    Throughout this essay, the terms “hypocritical blamer” and “hypocrite with respect to blame” are used interchangeably to refer to a hypocrite whose blame is hypocritical. We should, however, note that this character is distinct from a hypocrite who blames, but whose blame is not itself hypocritical. “Hypocritical blamer” could be used to refer to either character.

  2. 2.

    Indeed, this possibility partially undergirds Fritz and Miller’s distinction between “Type A” and “Type B” inconsistent blamers (see 2019b: 560–561, esp. n. 17).

  3. 3.

    This is only a rough characterization. I develop this account of hypocrisy in work currently under review.

  4. 4.

    Here is one gloss on taking responsibility: An agent S takes responsibility for an action A whenever she (a) is willing to do the work required to perform or omit to perform A-type actions in the future; (b) is willing to answer for her A-ing; and (c) self-identifies with her A-ing (cf. Danaher 2011). On my reading of the case, Vick fails to meet conditions (a) and (b).


  1. Alfano M (2013) Character as moral fiction. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  2. Danaher J (2011) Taking Responsibility vs. Being Morally Responsible. Philos Disq.

  3. Fritz K, Miller D (2018) Hypocrisy and the standing to blame. Pac Philos Q 99:118–139

  4. Fritz K, Miller D (2019a) When hypocrisy undermines the standing to blame: a response to Rossi. Ethical Theory Moral Pract 22:379–384

  5. Fritz K, Miller D (2019b) The unique badness of hypocritical blame. Ergo 6:545–569

  6. Rossi B (2018) The commitment account of hypocrisy. Ethical Theory Moral Pract 21:553–567

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Correspondence to Benjamin Rossi.

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Rossi, B. Feeling Badly Is Not Good Enough: a Reply to Fritz and Miller. Ethic Theory Moral Prac (2020).

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  • Hypocrisy
  • Hypocritical blame
  • Nonhypocrisy condition
  • Standing to blame
  • Weakness of will
  • Differential blaming disposition