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Sometimes ignorance functions as a legitimate excuse, and sometimes it doesn't. It is widely maintained that, when the ignorance an agent acts or omits from is blameless, it excuses an agent. Call this claim the Blameless Ignorance Principle, or (BI). This principle is at the heart of questions concerning the epistemic condition on blameworthiness; my project explores a number of these with the aim of developing the literature in three areas. I first explore the epistemic condition on derivative blameworthiness. An agent's blameworthiness for something is derivative when it depends upon his blameworthiness for some prior thing that it resulted from. However, not just any negative consequence that a blameworthy action or omission results in is something for which the agent is thereby also blameworthy. It is often maintained that, in addition, the consequence must have been foreseeable for the agent. I develop a two-part argument against this view. First, I argue that agents can be blameless for failing to foresee what was reasonably foreseeable for them. Second, I explain that, if this is so and if (BI) is true, then the foreseeability view is false. Consequently, I consider an alternative view that requires actual foresight and is consistent with (BI).
Blameworthiness, Culpable Ignorance, Foresight, Ignorance, Quality of Will
Date of Defense
April 13, 2016.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Philosophy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Randolph Clarke, Professor Directing Dissertation; John Kelsay, University Representative; Alfred Mele, Committee Member; David McNaughton, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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