Retributive Hatred as a Reactive Moral Attitude
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Philosophers' attention to negative attitudes has grown in recent decades. However, whereas philosophers have offered a number of descriptions of, and justifications for, attitudes like resentment and contempt, hatred is usually met with antipathy even when we might be inclined to be sympathetic to the hater. In this dissertation I offer a sustained examination of hatred I and make a rather startling claim: There are cases of hatred that are morally justifiable. The kind of hatred I defend is what some philosophers have called retributive hatred. This is hatred adopted in response to wrongdoing and in which hostility is driven by a retributive notion of moral desert. To make my case I argue that retributive hatred is distinguishable from such attitudes as prejudicial hatred, malice, and spite--attitudes with which it is often confused--and that it is not liable to the kinds of criticisms that can be levied against these types of hatred. I then show that retributive hatred should be classified among the reactive attitudes. Thus there are conditions governing when retributive haters can be understood as properly representing their targets as hateful and I argue that these conditions can be met. I then argue that non-instrumental hostility in retributive hatred can be justified because it uniquely captures desert claims in some situations.
- Philosophy