Practical Philosophy Seminar: Maria Seim
"No unified account of 'standing'"
It has recently become fashionable to use the term ‘standing’ when determining who can and should respond to moral wrongdoing. What is wrong with hypocritical blame, meddlesome blame and third-party forgiveness, the standard view has it, is that the blamer, or forgiver, lacks standing to respond to the wrong in question. In this paper I address some important challenges to the current use of this term. Macalester Bell (2013) and Matt King (2019) have suggested that what makes these moral responses wrong is not that the responder lacks standing, but that the responses are wrong in virtue of some independent moral fault. Just like we can be petty, stingy, or arrogant when responding to moral wrongdoing, we can be hypocritical or meddlesome – and these faults have nothing to do with the standing of the responder (Bell 2013:275). There are two ways of interpreting this challenge. It can either mean that whether or not you have standing does not influence the propriety of blame. Or, it can be interpreted as challenging whether there is such a thing as ‘standing’ in the first place; and thus that ‘standing’ is simply a term used to avoid explaining what is wrong with hypocrisy and meddling. I argue that only the latter of these interpretations poses a real challenge to our use of the term. To address the real challenge, I explore whether we have a general understanding of ‘standing’ that applies to all the cases where it is used. I conclude that we do not, and that there are different conceptions of standing at play in the literature. None of the extant conceptions of standing can be extended to all the suggested standing conditions.