Michelle Schwarze: Recognizing Resentment – Sympathy, Injustice, and Liberal Political Thought

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V, Benjamin West

Recognizing Resentment: Sympathy, Injustice, and Liberal Political Thought

By Michelle Schwarze


Michelle Schwarze, Jack Miller Center Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written a book exploring injustice and resentment within the realm of politics:

We typically think of resentment as an unjustifiable and volatile emotion, responsible for fostering the worst political divisions. Recognizing Resentment argues instead that sympathy with the resentment of victims of injustice is vital for upholding justice in liberal societies, as it entails recognition of the equal moral and political status of those with whom we sympathize. Sympathizing with the resentment of others makes us alive to injustice in a way no rational recognition of wrongs alone can, and it motivates us to demand justice on others’ behalves. This book rehabilitates arguments for the moral and political worth of resentment developed by three influential thinkers in the early liberal tradition – Joseph Butler, David Hume, and Adam Smith – and uses these to advance a theory of spectatorial resentment, discussing why we should be indignant about the injustice others face, and how such a shared sentiment can actually bring liberal citizens closer together.

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Michelle SchwarzeMichelle Schwarze is the Jack Miller Center Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research centers on the passions and the history of political economy, especially in 18th century moral and political theory and the works of Adam Smith. Her work has been published in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, and American Political Thought. She currently serves on the executive committee of the International Adam Smith Society.

Professor Schwarze is a JMC Assistant Professor of Political Science.


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