a1 New York University
a2 University of Michigan Law School email@example.com
Reactive emotion accounts hold that blameworthiness should be analyzed in terms of the familiar reactive emotions. However, despite the attractions of such views, we are not persuaded that blameworthiness is ultimately a matter of correctly felt reactive emotion. In this paper, we draw attention to a range of little-discussed considerations involving the moral significance of the passage of time that drive a wedge between blameworthiness and the reactive emotions: the appropriateness of the reactive emotions is sensitive to the passage of time in ways that attributions of blameworthiness are not. There are a number of ways in which reactive emotion accounts might attempt to accommodate the moral significance of time, however. We consider the most important of these but ultimately find them wanting. Accordingly, we conclude that the prospects for the reactive emotion accounts are bleak. Our argument, if successful, has a range of implications for legal theory, most importantly in providing a novel moral basis for statutes of limitations and in shedding light on new avenues in the theory of criminal law generally.
* We would like to thank Facundo Alonso, Elizabeth Anderson, Zac Cogley, Stephen Darwall, John Martin Fischer, Scott Hershovitz, Dan Jacobson, Shelly Kagan, Gabe Mendlow, Scott Shapiro, Will Thomas, the participants in both the Law and Philosophy Discussion Group and the Philosophy Department Faculty Workshop at Yale University, and two anonymous reviewers for this journal for all their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.