Moral Sentiments and Accountability: The Power of Reconciliation and Restorative Justice

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Author(s): Linghui Zhou

To cite this article: Zhou, L. (2022). “Moral Sentiments and Accountability: The Power of Reconciliation and Restorative Justice”, Internet Journal of Restorative Justice, ISSN (online): 2056-2985



This paper investigates the role of our emotions of resentment, guilt, shame, and remorse within moral accountability and the possibility of reconcilement by investigating the question: to what extent does the moralization of emotional sentiments justify our choice of retaliation or reconciliation to compensate and take responsibility for our actions? Retributivist philosopher Jeffrie Murphy considers our sentiments of indignation and hatred towards the ones who have wronged us as a moral and psychologically healthy means to protect our rights. Stephen Darwall, on the other hand, takes issue with Murphy’s perspectives as he argues that we express second-personal respect with our reactive attitudes by holding one another accountable to our autonomous decision-making. This paper explores the relationship between moral blame and mitigation in correlation with the practice of restorative justice to seek mutual accountability amongst members of society. In support of Darwall’s restorative approach, I propose that under the necessary conditions of individual choice, mutual accountability, and second personal respect, the moralization of emotional sentiments justifies how we respond to others’ wrongdoing. Such expressions and mutual engagement empower us to take responsibility for our actions through a restorative process that involves healing and possible reconciliation.

Keywords: Moral Sentiments, Mutual Accountability, Punishment and Responsibility, Restorative Justice

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