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Anger and Morality

Abstract

The emotion of anger has a long love–hate relationship with morality. On the one hand, anger often motivates us to sanction wrongdoing and uphold demanding moral standards. On the other hand, it can prompt aggression behaviors that are at odds with morality and even lead to moral disasters. This article describes this complex relationship. I argue that the intensity of anger elicited by moral transgressions is highly sensitive to key variables, including the identity of the person wronged, the nature of the wrongdoing, and expectations about what should and will be done. Depending on the context, we sometimes experience more anger than would be commendable and sometimes less. These characteristics of anger, in turn, explain the ubiquity of norms and discourses aimed at governing the expression of this emotion.

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Correspondence to Benoît Dubreuil.

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Dubreuil, B. Anger and Morality. Topoi 34, 475–482 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-014-9238-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-014-9238-7

Keywords

  • Anger
  • Indignation
  • Emotion
  • Morality
  • Fairness
  • Punishment