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Does Moral Ignorance Exculpate?

Author(s): Harman, Elizabeth

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Abstract: Non‐moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one's action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one's beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on which many agents who act wrongly are blameworthy despite believing they are acting morally permissibly, and despite not having mismanaged their moral beliefs.
Publication Date: Dec-2011
Electronic Publication Date: 9-Nov-2011
Citation: Harman, Elizabeth. "Does moral ignorance exculpate?." Ratio 24, no. 4 (2011): 443-468.
DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1467-9329.2011.00511.x
ISSN: 0034-0006
Pages: 443 - 468
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Ratio
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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