Emily McTernan, ‘Taking offense: An emotion reconsidered’

“A stranger in the pub bumps into you spilling your drink and then doesn’t apologize, or someone pushes past to grab a seat on the train. A colleague makes a dismissive remark about your work in front of your boss. A man catcalls a woman on the street, or wears a T‐shirt declaring, ‘keep calm, watch lesbians’. One reaction to affronts like these is to take offense. Philosophers have said a great deal about causing offense, especially whether we should punish or prevent it, but very little about what is to take offense, let alone whether we should. Hitherto, the focus of moral and legal philosophy has tended to be the offender, not the offended. Meanwhile, taking offense has captured popular attention, with a multitude of books and opinion pieces condemning ‘oversensitive millennials’ and ‘generation snowflake’. There, however, being offended tends to be characterized, I will argue, mistakenly, as a kind of emotional upset, borne of oversensitivity or emotional fragility, or as a retreat into victimhood. In this article, I offer an analysis of what it is to take offense and what doing so is like, on which a more nuanced and positive appraisal of this emotion becomes possible as compared to its popular reputation …”

Emily McTernan, Taking offense: An emotion reconsidered, Philosophy and Public Affairs, https://doi.org/10.1111/papa.12188. First published: 25 March 2021.

(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply