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
Date Written: August 25, 2007
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
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