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The Beam and the Mote: On Blame, Standing, and Normativity

New book on hypocrisy By Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, published by Oxford University Press.

The publisher writes:

"'Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye' says the Bible. In other words: there is something problematic about one person blaming another, when the blamer's faults are even greater.

Many believe that even if one has done something blameworthy, one can dismiss blame when coming from a hypocritical blamer. Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen examines the nature and ethics of standingless, hypocritical blame. It argues that hypocrites lack standing to blame in virtue of their lack of commitment to the norms to which they appeal in their blame; that hypocritical blame is pro tanto morally wrong because it involves treating the blamee as an inferior; and that there are many other sources of lacking standing to blame than hypocrisy, e.g., complicity. Lippert-Rasmussen extrapolates these analyses to other moral responses, notably praising and forgiving. So far, philosophers interested in standing have focused narrowly on blaming, but many other moral responses require standing as well. Indeed, Lippert-Rasmussen argues that considerations about standing apply to illocutionary acts not involving appeals to moral norms, e.g., non-moral encouragements and epistemic blame. In closing,
Lippert-Rasmussen uses insights related to the idea of standing as a basis for making a grand claim about how part of morality is interpersonal in a sense often ignored in discussions of mainstream first-order moral theories, and to elucidate the nature of the moral wrong involved in relying on negative statistical generalizations about certain groups of people."

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