Co-Convener, Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy: 2015-2016
Co-Convener, Philosophy and Inclusive Pedagogy: 2014-2015
Most literature on blameworthiness focuses on agents who are blameworthy for their wrong acts versus agents who can be excused from blame. I am interested in when it is appropriate to hold agents responsible for their wrong acts even if they are not potential candidates for blame. The questions I want to answer are: "when is it appropriate to hold someone responsible for her wrong act, even though she is not blameworthy?" and "when are we mistaken in judging that an agent is blameworthy for performing some wrong act, even though she is morally responsible for performing it?" By asking these two questions, I mean to identify a set of cases where agents are morally responsible but not blameworthy for performing wrong acts.
In this paper, I examine the empirically-based folk concept of Praise-Blame Asymmetry. I note that when laypeople make assessments of moral responsibility, they sometimes appeal to the agent’s motivations for acting, and they sometimes do not. In order to figure out why they make these judgements and how these judgements are justified, I construct and explore an empirically-based folk theory of moral worth. While examining the folk theory of moral worth, I realize that laypeople inconsistently apply the criteria for an agent’s being morally responsible and that it is these inconsistently applied criteria that are fuelling asymmetrical judgements about praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. I try to resolve the inconsistencies in the folk theory of moral worth by appealing to the intend/foresee distinction and, eventually, by including new criteria for ascriptions of moral responsibility: reasons for action. Believing that Nomy Arpaly’s theory of moral worth can successfully support Praise-Blame Asymmetry; I flesh out her theory, hoping to resolve the inconsistencies and problems that I noted in the original folk theory of moral worth.
Praise-Blame Asymmetry; Responsibility; Moral Worth;
Conklin, S. Philosophical Problems with Praise-Blame Asymmetry (Master's Dissertation). Edinburgh, Scotland: University of Edinburgh, 2011.
The purpose of this paper was to answer the question of whether morally indifferent agents are blameworthy when they perform wrong acts. The answer to my question is that morally indifferent agents are not blameworthy when they perform wrong acts, and that we are rarely, if ever, justified in considering them blameworthy. I answered this question by looking at Nomy Arpaly’s theory of moral worth. I introduced Arpaly’s view with the praise-blame asymmetry in mind. Arpaly’s theory of moral worth tracks the asymmetry and attempts to justify the actual asymmetrical judgments that we make when ascribing praise and blame. I used Arpaly’s view as a vehicle for demonstrating how we go wrong when we claim that morally indifferent agents are blameworthy when they perform wrong acts. To reach my conclusion, I determined that Arpaly thinks that it is a sufficient condition for an agent’s being blameworthy that he is insufficiently responsive to the relevant moral reasons when he performs a wrong act. In response, I showed that morally indifferent agents are not actually insufficiently responsive to relevant moral reasons when they act, and that they are, thus, not blameworthy.
Nomy Arpaly; Blame; Moral Indifference; Reason Responsiveness; Praise-Blame Asymmetry; Responsibility; Moral Worth;
Conklin, S. Blame and Moral Indifference (Honours Thesis). Norton, MA: Wheaton College, 2010.read it now!