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Relative JusticeCultural Diversity, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility$
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Tamler Sommers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139937

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139937.001.0001

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Shame Cultures, Collectivist Societies, Original Sin, and Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

Shame Cultures, Collectivist Societies, Original Sin, and Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

(p.63) Chapter Three Shame Cultures, Collectivist Societies, Original Sin, and Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart
Relative Justice

Tamler Sommers

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines literature highlighting the differences between “individualist” societies (e.g., the United States, Great Britain, and Western Europe) and “collectivist societies” (e.g., Japan, China, and South Korea). It surveys literature from a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropology, social psychology, cultural psychology, sociology, and classical literature. The overarching goal is to give the reader taste of how differently human beings have regarded moral responsibility across cultures and throughout history. It shows that the relative emphasis on shame leads East Asians to connect blameworthiness with social disapproval, and also to feel responsible for public acts over which they have little or no control. In the West, an increased emphasis on guilt makes it more likely that individuals will hold themselves responsible for both public and private misdeeds, but only for those that they played an active role in bringing about.

Keywords:   moral responsibility, individualist societies, collectivist societies, East, West, guilt, shame, cultural differences

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