Chakrabarti’s ‘A Critique of Pure Revenge’: A Response

  • Robert C. Solomon
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 1)


Vengeance is sometimes justified, contrary to what Arindam Chakrabarti argues. The legitimacy of vengeance depends very much on the culture in which it is embedded. In “honor” cultures (as opposed to “institutional” ones), vengeance is typically prima facie legitimate and justifiable (if not necessarily justified). Even in institutional societies, many contexts are still bound up with honor, and vengeance still plays a role (if not a violent one) in these contexts. Chakrabarti stresses the opposition between “revenge approvers” and “revenge denouncers,” but there is a vast area between these extreme positions. Accordingly, when one is motivated by revenge, one has other options besides seeking vengeance and being merciful. One, termed here “righteous Schadenfreude,” is taking satisfaction when harm occurs to someone who has offended one, directly or indirectly. Righteous Schadenfreude is much more common than vengeance as such, and it is innocent of the most serious charges brought against vengeance (both in terms of deontology and in terms of bad consequences).


Emotional Intelligence Virtue Ethic Legal Institution Institutional Society Legal Punishment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Busquet, J. 1920. Le droit de vendetta et les pacii corse. Paris: Pedone.Google Scholar
  2. Kant, Immanuel. 1996 [1797]. The metaphysics of morals, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Solomon, Robert C. 1999. Justice v. vengeance: On law and the satisfaction of emotion. In The passions of law, ed. Susan A. Bandes, 123–148. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Sommers, Tamler. 2009. The two faces of revenge: Moral responsibility and the culture of honor. Biology and Philosophy 24: 35–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert C. Solomon
    • 1
  1. 1.AustinUSA

Personalised recommendations