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Alexander StarAs a sociologist, Tilly was more interested in how we assign credit and blame than when it's right to do so. Should we care that when a chief executive attributes his company's success to his own intelligence or decisiveness, he's probably wrong? Why do we put more blame on someone who drives through a stop sign at night and kills a child than on the countless others who drive through stop signs and kill no one? Tilly does not answer such questions, but his analysis suggests that for all the bad judgments we may make about the supposed malfeasance of terrorism-neglecting bureaucrats or the homeless, our habits are not easily reformed. Blaming, he argues, is not a vice or an aberration but an essential habit that allows us to maintain and repair our relationships with others. Our justice detectors are not fundamentally defective. They are suited to the task of setting things right—approximately.
—The New York Times