Blaming the Intellectually Vicious: a Critical Discussion of Cassam’s Account of Blameworthiness and Reprehensibility for Epistemic Vice

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (5):851-859 (2020)
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There is much of interest in Cassam’s ground-breaking Vices of the Mind. This discussion focuses exclusively on one aspect of his view, namely, his account of what it takes to be properly criticisable or blameworthy for one’s epistemic vices. This critical discussion consists of two sections. The first provides an overview of Cassam’s account of responsibility and criticisability for intellectual vices. The second raises a problem for that account whose formulation is due to Battaly and proposes a solution which, at least in part, could also be adopted by Cassam himself if he were prepared to make some small changes to his view. This solution generates a highly disjunctive account of criticisability and responsibility for possessing an epistemic vice. Although such heterogeneity might seem wholly unsatisfactory, it receives a plausible explanation when the account is put within the context of a Strawsonian approach to the practice of holding people responsible for their epistemic vices.

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Alessandra Tanesini
Cardiff University


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