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Moral responsibility, culpable ignorance and suppressed disagreement

Furman, Katherine (2018) Moral responsibility, culpable ignorance and suppressed disagreement. Social Epistemology, 32 (5). p. 287. ISSN 0269-1728

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Identification Number: 10.1080/02691728.2018.1512173

Abstract

Ignorance can excuse otherwise blameworthy action, but only if the ignorance itself is blameless. One way to avoid culpable ignorance is to pay attention when epistemic peers disagree. Expressed disagreements place an obligation on the agent to pay attention when an interlocutor disagrees, or risk culpable ignorance for which they might later be found blameworthy. Silence, on the other hand, is typically taken as assent. But in cases of suppressed disagreement, the silenced interlocutor has information that could save the agent from ignorance in scenarios where that ignorance might lead to harmful action, and silence does not actually indicate assent. The problem is further complicated because the agent might not be aware of the fact that a silenced interlocutor has information that could prevent ignorance, and consequent harmful action. In this paper, I provide a new account of excuses from ignorance in situations of suppressed disagreement. I do this in the context of two cases; Kelly’s (2005) hypothetical case of the Tyrannical Dictator, and the real-world case of former South African President Thabo Mbeki and his AIDS denialist policies in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2019 16:03
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2019 03:25
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100006

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