Francesco Mancini Amelia Gangemi

Deontological guilt and altruistic guilt: A dualistic approach

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In this paper we will argue the existence of two distinct feelings of guilt: altruistic guilt and deontological guilt. We contrast our thesis with more traditional and earlier approaches (e.g. Interpersonal vs. intrapsychic or psychoanalytic), describing guilt as a unique kind of feeling. We will show that the two guilt feelings can be distinguishable with reference to behavioral, cognitive and neurophysiological aspects. Moreover, we will demonstrate that they are differently related to other processes and emotions. Altruistic guilt is connected with pain, empathy and ToM. Deontological guilt is strongly related to disgust. A possible relevant implication of our thesis is that the two guilt feelings could have two different evolutionary origins. Altruistic guilt could come from the motivation of caring, while deontological guilt could come from the motivation of repelling and avoiding disgusting substances.


  • Guilt Feeling
  • Deontological Guilt
  • Altruistic Guilt
  • Moral Norms
  • Disgust


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