Unavoidable Blameworthiness

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The Kantian ethical position, especially as represented in Alan Donagan, rejects the possibility of unavoidable blameworthiness. Donagan also holds that morality is learned by participation. But consider: there must be some first instance of an agent’s being held blameworthy. To hold the agent blameworthy in that instance supposes that the agent could have known what morality required so as to be able to avoid blameworthiness. But before experiencing blameworthiness the agent can have no real understanding of the significance of morality’s requiring anything, if morality is learned by participation. Hence the agent could not have known to avoid violating morality’s requirement. The agent could not have knowingly avoided being blameworthy in the first instance of blameworthiness, as he or she would not understand the significance of doing so. This is unavoidable blameworthiness.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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