"Blame Games": Prof. Susan Wolf (N. Carolina) on the questions of moral blame

November 23, 2017

In the first annual lecture by the Center for Moral and Political Philosophy, Prof. Susan Wolf, a professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, lectured on the subject of Moral Blame to a forum that included students and researchers from the faculties of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law.

In a lecture entitled "Blame Games", Susan Wolf - a central philosopher of morality - returned to a number of topics that were central to her writing in the past, and also to Philosophy in general. In particular, she once again inquired about the necessary conditions for moral responsibility, moral guilt, and the connection of such conditions to the metaphysical problem of free will. She suggested that the "menu" of options that we have so far known - the distinction between whether someone is morally guilty for any action, and the question of whether the action should be regretted (even the one who committed it is not guilty) does not exhaust what we would like to say here. Wolf defended another category – 'criticalizability' - which may not require all the necessary conditions for guilt, but it is nevertheless significant in criticizing perpetrators.

Prof. Wolf is currently the Edna J. Koury Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught previously at Johns Hopkins University (1986-2002), the University of Maryland (1981-1986) and Harvard University (1978-1981). Her work centers on the relation between freedom, morality, happiness and meaningfulness in life.

Her book Freedom Within Reason (Oxford, 1990) argues for a view of free will as the ability to do what one reasonably thinks is the right thing. This allows a deterministic universe to nevertheless contain responsibility and the feeling of autonomy for us. Wolf has also written on the topic of moral luck, suggesting reconciliation between the rationalist and irrationalist positions.

The philosophy of law and morality are major areas of knowledge within the legal world, and a considerable number of law students combine their law studies with philosophy studies. Therefore, the lecture received special interest from the faculty members and students.