Daniel Davies is leading an interesting discussion over at Crooked Timber on the subject:

Why is it that no moral or political philosophy of which I am aware has a satisfactory explanation for the fact that snitches, grasses and tattle-tales are almost universally reviled? In most other areas of moral philosophy, it is considered generally unsatisfying at least to have what is known as an “error theory”; a set of principles which commits you to the belief that the majority of the population are wrong in some of their strongly held beliefs. But in the case of snitches, grasses and squealers, most of the moral philosophies I’ve ever heard of seem to be more or less entirely committed to an error theory? Why?

Amusingly, this subject is one of the pet peeves of one G. Gordon Liddy, who approaches it with somewhat less reference to the philosophical literature.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dean Esmay says:

    I’ve never heard the term “grass” or “grasses” used in this manner. Interesting.