Moral incapacity and huckleberry Finn

Ratio 14 (1):56–67 (2001)
Bernard Williams distinguishes moral incapacities – incapacities that are themselves an expression of the moral life – from mere psychological ones in terms of deliberation. Against Williams I claim there are examples of such moral incapacity where no possible deliberation is involved – that an agent's incapacity may be a primitive feature or fact about their life. However Michael Clark argues that my claim here leaves the distinction between moral and psychological incapacity unexplained, and that an adequate understanding of the kind of examples I suggest must involve at least some implicit reference to deliberation. In this paper I attempt to meet Clark's objection and further clarify my account of primitive moral incapacities by considering an example from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. What this example shows, I argue, is how our characterization of an agent's response as a moral incapacity turns not on the idea of deliberation but on the way certain primitive incapacities for action are connected to a larger pattern of response in an agent's life, a pattern of response that itself helps to constitute our conception of that agent's character and the moral life more generally
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/1467-9329.00144
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,651
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Anders Schinkel (2011). Huck Finn, Moral Language and Moral Education. Journal of Philosophy of Education 45 (3):511-525.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

38 ( #125,386 of 1,902,709 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #223,438 of 1,902,709 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.