People seem more tolerant of causing others emotional harm compared to physical harm. If you punch someone, you're thought to have done something worse than if you were to just insult them with name-calling. But why is this? What's the morally relevant difference between causing someone physical pain versus emotion pain? Is physical pain so much worse than emotional pain that it makes the former permissible but not the other? But certainly there are times where emotional pain feels worse than certain physical pains. If the level of pain is what determines the morality of the actions, then in situations where the emotional pain would hurt more than the physical pain, it would mean that it would be more immoral to cause the victim emotional pain. Perhaps it's because of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech makes us have a right to cause people certain emotional harm, but we don't have a similar freedom that gives us the right to cause people physical harm.
But isn't it still a little odd to have the right to cause some kind of pain to a person but not another kind, especially when emotional pain can feel as bad if not worse than the physical pain that we do not have a right to inflict? What if we had the right to cause pain by punching but not by kicking? Assuming we weren't in the middle of a boxing match, this would seem similarly odd as kicking can cause at least the same level of pain as punching, just as emotional pain can compared to physical pain.
Is it that it is more of the victim's fault for experiencing emotional pain than it is when he experiences physical pain? The victim shouldn't let things bother his mind so mind; he should have a thicker skin. If the victim is hurt emotionally, it's his fault for letting the situation get to him.
But could something similar be applied to argue that it's the victim's fault for experiencing physical pain? If the victim is punched in the stomach, it's his fault for feeling physical pain because he didn't work out to develop strong enough abs to allow him to ignore the punch. Would expecting the victim to have stronger abs be that different from expecting them to get emotionally thicker skin? Maybe getting thicker skin is easier than getting stronger abs, and that is why we can blame the victim for not having thicker skin but we can't blame them for not having stronger abs. This may not be true, but even if it was this would mean that if we could take a pill to instantly give a person super strong abs, we'd be able to blame the victim for feeling pain after getting punched in the stomach. And if it doesn't seem right to blame the victim in that case, then it would not seem to be relevant how easy it is for one to be able to ignore pain in order for it to be the victim's fault for feeling the pain.
Could it be that we are less sure what will cause someone emotional pain as opposed to having a pretty good idea what will cause someone physical pain? It is probably true that usually it is harder to predict when an act will cause emotional pain as opposed to physical pain, but this would not excuse cases where we can be pretty sure that our act will cause someone emotional pain. Further, if in the future we become just as good at predicting when an act will cause emotional pain as we are at predicting physical pain, then this explanation would no longer excuse causing emotional pain.
Maybe there are advantages that come from making it permissible to cause emotional pain but not physical pain. Maybe it's permissible to cause emotional pain because it lets people be more creative without being restrained by hurting someone's feelings. The problem with that explanation is that while it may make it more permissible in a grand sense to be able to hurt someone emotionally compared to hurting someone physically, it does not seem to make any particular act of hurting someone's feelings permissible. It is like how the loss of life from driving accidents are acceptable because of the benefits that driving brings, but that does not mean that if I kill someone with my car that that was permissible because driving has general benefits.
There may be a significant difference that makes causing emotional pain more permissible than causing physical pain, but it hardly seems so obvious that people are justified in quickly brushing aside and ignoring the possible wrongness of hurting someone's feelings.