The Work of Jeffrie G. Murphy: Introduction

By DeCew, Judith Wagner | Criminal Justice Ethics, Summer-Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

The Work of Jeffrie G. Murphy: Introduction


DeCew, Judith Wagner, Criminal Justice Ethics


This symposium honors the work and writings of Jeffrie G. Murphy, Regents' Professor Law, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Murphy is the author of over ten books and edited anthologies as well as more than seventy-five articles and entries in areas such as philosophy of law, social philosophy, and moral psychology, and in a vast range of journals including Ethics, Criminal Justice Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Philosophical Studies, The Monist, Social Philosophy and Policy, and Arizona Law Review. His writings have been influential in multiple areas because of his wide range of interests, including Hume, Kant, punishment and capital punishment, retribution, legal moralism, resentment and vindictiveness, forgiveness, equal treatment, injustice, and mercy. Murphy's books, Kant: The Philosophy of Right (1970), Punishment and Rehabilitation, (1973, 1984, 1994), The Philosophy of Law: An Introduction (with Jules Coleman, 1990), and especially Forgiveness and Mercy (with Jean Hampton, 1988) and Getting Even: Forgiveness and its Limits (2003) are among his most foundational contributions.

The three papers included here were first presented as commentaries on various aspects of Murphy's work. Also included is a response to the three commentaries by Murphy. The papers were part of a special session arranged by the American Philosophical Association Committee on Philosophy and Law, held on March 22, 2008 at the Pacific Division Meetings in Pasadena, California. The session was chaired by myself, and was organized by Julie C. Van Camp, Professor of Philosophy at California State University at Long Beach, who is Chair of the APA Committee on Philosophy and Law.

In his paper, "Rehabilitating Resentment and Choosing What We feel," Jerome Neu focuses on Murphy's considerable contributions to moral psychology and the way in which Murphy has increased our understanding of the subtleties of our attitudes, judgments, and emotions, placing them in an analytical context. In particular, he examines Murphy's work on resentment, vindictiveness, and forgiveness, and raises the challenging question whether we can control whether we forgive or resent or feel jealous: is it in our power to generate and control our feelings, and if so, how do we manage to do so? And if it is not in our power, what follows? Although Neu believes that we can try to have certain attitudes or alter our feelings, he nevertheless argues that there are limits on our ability to choose our emotions and motives, a limitation that raises both psychological and moral problems.

Benjamin Zipursky writes on "Coming Clean on Getting Even: Murphy on Hatred and Criminal Justice." His essay challenges Murphy to explain what he means in advocating "coming clean" on vengeful passions, and what the implications are of "coming clean" with respect to one's feelings of hatred, vindictiveness, and retribution. …

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