Marion Smiley
Brandeis University
This article has three parts. The first argues that excuses such as "I didn't know" and "I couldn't help myself" are not, as we are frequently led to believe, vehicles for discovering whether or not an individual's will was free. Instead, they are self-narratives that we produce for the purpose of avoiding blame. The second part explores the particular notion of non-responsibility that governs these self-narratives. The third articulates the role that our judgments of fairness play in decisions to accept or reject pleas of ignorance and mental incompetence in particular cases.
Keywords Excuses  Blame  Blameworthiness  Ignorance  Mental impairment
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-014-9367-x
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References found in this work BETA

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Two Faces of Responsibility.Gary Watson - 1996 - Philosophical Topics 24 (2):227-248.
Control, Responsibility, and Moral Assessment.Angela M. Smith - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (3):367 - 392.
Culpability and Ignorance.Gideon Rosen - 2003 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (1):61-84.

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