A Capacitarian Account of Culpable Ignorance

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):398-426 (2017)
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Ignorance usually excuses from responsibility, unless the person is culpable for the ignorance itself. Since a lot of wrongdoing occurs in ignorance, the question of what makes ignorance culpable is central for a theory of moral responsibility. In this article I examine a prominent answer, which I call the ‘volitionalist tracing account,’ and criticize it on the grounds that it relies on an overly restrictive conception of responsibility‐relevant control. I then propose an alternative, which I call the ‘capacitarian conception of control,’ and on the basis of it I advance an account of culpable ignorance that avoids the skeptical upshots of the volitionalist proposal. If correct, my account establishes three important truths: agents can be directly in control of their ignorance, they can be directly responsible for more than actions and omissions, and their moral obligations extend beyond the performance of intentional actions and omissions.
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