Philosophy
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Visiting Speaker Series

Visiting Speaker Series

 

 Does Moral Ignorance Exculpate?

 

Elizabeth Harman

Princeton University


Non-moral ignorance can exculpate. If Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but she thinks she's spooning sugar, and she had no reason to think it was cyanide, then Anne is blameless for poisoning Bill. Anne's non-moral ignorance has rendered her blameless. Can moral ignorance exculpate in the same way? Suppose someone is caught in the grip of a false moral view, and acts terribly wrongly, but in a way that he thinks is morally permissible—or even morally good. Suppose he has thought hard about morality, and really tried to figure out what he should do. Is he blameworthy for his wrong action? Gideon Rosen has argued that such agents are not blameworthy. I will discuss Rosen's argument and some objections to it, and propose an alternative view on which such agents are indeed blameworthy.

  

Thursday, March 17th, 4:30 p.m.

King 343

 

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