Sociological and Legal Perspectives of Guilt

By Popa, George Dorel | Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, July 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Sociological and Legal Perspectives of Guilt


Popa, George Dorel, Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice


ABSTRACT.

This paper aims to review the main meanings of the notion of guilt, based on the premise that prior the substantiation of legal systems, the term had a different social significance. Testimony is the fact that even today some tribes in the Java region do not have in the vocabulary the word "guilt." Also studies on students, demonstrates that learning pro-social behavior, is based on the development of psychological mechanisms such as internalization of guilt and effortful control of anti-social behavior. To realize and appreciate a fact as being good or bad it is necessary that the specific fact has a representation in the individual conscience, therefore, when it comes to the question of guilt it is necessary, for justice representatives to be convinced, that the one hold responsible has the representation of the acts that he committed. Based on these ideas we will analyze the main areas from which the guilt derives.

Keywords: shame, guilt, penal law, justice, social control

The judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted.

Publilius Syrus, Verdicts

1. Introduction

To understand the concept of guilt, we will analyze the description of the word in everyday language and then, the legal definition. Routinely is assumed that guilty means "to be guilty" so actually is a fact circumstances. Result of the action of an idea contrary to social norms lead to "a state of guilt" by internalizing the subjective level of consequences.

From a legal perspective guilt is "mental attitude had when committing the unlawful act or immediately after committing, both facing the act but also facing its consequences." Criminal law defines guilt as "an essential feature of the offense, which consists of consciousness attitude towards crime and the attitude of the crime subject concerning the outcome of his act. Guilt exists when the hazardous social act is committed intentionally or by mistake." Last definition is the most comprehensive because it covers both common language and the language of the law specialists.

2. Shame, Guilt and Psychology

Learning social behavior is starting in childhood, by cultivating a sense of shame. Subsequently the guilt occurs. Depending on the specific of the society and moral norms, we deal with so-called "culture of shame", particularly specific to Asian societies and the "culture of blame" specific to the West societies. Shame and guilt are called "moral emotions" and the feelings generated refers to how the individual feels negative when is evaluated negatively by other members of society. Shame occurs after the individual is aware of moral norms. Unlike shame, guilt imply as a negative assessment to be made by him/herself. Shame is related with others members of society and strongly associated with fear of failing the expectations of others.

Guilt is directed in wards and is associated with fear of failing to meet personal standards. Studies have shown that guilt is determining individual to raise their self-esteem and to amend the perspective in which embraced certain aspects of reality. Empirically analyzing the three terms - shame, guilt, psychology - the first term to includes the other two. Shame and guilt are the psychological consequences that the person should accept for violation of the social rules1. Speaking about guilt, this feeling may be remedied and erased by punishment. Punishment, in this case is a common and recommended measure in many legal and moral codes of the countries of the world. In this respect, punishment is advised taking in account the legal provisions of each country. Another, measure to be taken in consideration in order to "repair" guilt is forgiveness as a alternate item. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sociological and Legal Perspectives of Guilt
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.