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Carolina Seminar on Philosophy, Ethics and Mental Health


Jordan MacKenzie, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Please contact Dan Moseley,, for registration information

We often feel survivor guilt when the very circumstances that harm others leave us unscathed. Although survivor guilt is both commonplace and intelligible, it raises a puzzle when placed against the backdrop of the standard philosophical account of guilt, according to which guilt represents the subject as morally blameworthy. The standard account implies that survivor guilt is systematically irrational, as people are not blameworthy simply for having fared better than others. In this paper, Michael Zhao (Notre Dame) and I offer a rival account of guilt that allows us to explain, as well as justify, cases of survivor guilt. Survivor guilt, we claim, arises when a subject takes herself to have violated either a requirement not to give rise to unjust disparities, or an obligation of solidarity toward those with whom she identifies.

Please contact Dan Moseley,, for more information. These events are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Support from Carolina Seminars, the UNC Center for Bioethics, and the Departments of Philosophy & Psychiatry