Practical Philosophy

'Anger and Remorse'

Presenter: Adam Etinson (St Andrews) - joining via videolink


We get angry for reasons – e.g., because we are slighted, betrayed, or otherwise wronged. And when we get angry, we typically wish for certain things – e.g., payback, an apology, or punishment (“justice”). In this talk, I argue that the roots and aims of anger are a little narrower than we normally think. We know that remorse, on the part of offenders, has a powerful capacity to abate anger, on the part of victims. This suggests that anger is rooted, not just in perceived wrongdoing, but in a victim’s outrage at the “cold,” ignorant, or remorseless attitude of an offender. It also suggests that anger seeks the satisfaction of remorse itself. If that’s right, then anger is fundamentally about recognition, not revenge.