Don't Know, Don't Kill: Moral Ignorance, Culpability, and Caution

Philosophical Studies, Vol. 136, No. 1, pp. 59-97, 2007

39 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2010

See all articles by Alexander A. Guerrero

Alexander A. Guerrero

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Philosophy; University of Pennsylvania - Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy

Date Written: August 25, 2007

Abstract

This paper takes on several distinct but related tasks. First, I present and discuss what I will call the ‘‘Ignorance Thesis,’’ which states that whenever an agent acts from ignorance, whether factual or moral, she is culpable for the act only if she is culpable for the ignorance from which she acts. Second, I offer a counterexample to the Ignorance Thesis, an example that applies most directly to the part I call the ‘‘Moral Ignorance Thesis.’’ Third, I argue for a principle – Don’t Know, Don’t Kill – that supports the view that the purported counterexample actually is a counterexample. Finally, I suggest that my arguments in this direction can supply a novel sort of argument against many instances of killing and eating certain sorts of animals.

Keywords: Moral ignorance, culpability, responsibility, moral uncertainty, recklessness

Suggested Citation

Guerrero, Alexander A., Don't Know, Don't Kill: Moral Ignorance, Culpability, and Caution (August 25, 2007). Philosophical Studies, Vol. 136, No. 1, pp. 59-97, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1652938

Alexander A. Guerrero (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Philosophy ( email )

433 Cohen Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy ( email )

3401 Market Street
Suite 320
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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