Respecting each other and taking responsibility for our biases

In Marina Oshana, Katrina Hutchison & Catriona Mackenzie (eds.), Social Dimensions of Moral Responsibility. Oup Usa (2018)
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In this paper I suggest that there is a way to make sense of blameworthiness for morally problematic actions even when there is no bad will behind such actions. I am particularly interested in cases where an agent acts in a biased way, and the explanation is socialization and false belief rather than bad will on the part of the agent. In such cases, I submit, we are pulled in two directions: on the one hand non-culpable ignorance is usually an excuse, but in the case of acting in a biased way we feel some pull to find the agent blameworthy. I argue that agents are sometimes blameworthy, (where I really mean that they are blameworthy, and not just that it is permissible to reproach them), even if they do not have any bad will. I argue that although the paradigmatic account of blameworthiness is based on quality of will, we can and should be willing to allow that there are non-paradigmatic cases. I argue that the zone of responsibility can be extended to include acts that we are not fully in control of, and acts whose moral status we are non-culpably ignorant about at the time of acting. This extension of responsibility happens through a voluntary taking of responsibility. I argue that there are certain conditions under which we should take responsibility, and that when we do so, we genuinely are responsible.



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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.

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