Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Andrea Westlund

Committee Members

Joshua Spencer, Edward Hinchman


Blame, Demands, Expectations, Reactive Attitudes, Responsibility


In the literature on responsibility and blame, ‘expectations’ and ‘demands’ are often used interchangeably. Specifically, R. Jay Wallace construes expectations and demands as equivalent ways of expressing strict prohibitions or requirements. However, expectations and demands are not identical concepts and treating them as such glosses over important nuance. By using these concepts synonymously, Wallace is unable to account for how we blame and hold others responsible for actions that do not violate strict prohibitions or requirements, actions that are merely considered morally bad. In this paper I explore the distinction between expectations and demands and how ignoring this distinction ultimately produces an unduly revisionist account of responsibility and blame. By articulating the distinction between expectations and demands, I am able to put forth a wider conception of accountability, one which better explains our responsibility practices, including why blame and resentment are fitting responses to morally bad actions.