Epistemic justification and the ignorance excuse

Philosophical Studies 175 (12):3005-3028 (2018)

Authors
Nathan Biebel
Brandeis University
Abstract
One of the most common excuses is ignorance. Ignorance does not always excuse, however, for sometimes ignorance is culpable. One of the most natural ways to think of the difference between exculpating and culpable ignorance is in terms of justification; that is, one’s ignorance is exculpating only if it is justified and one’s ignorance is culpable only if it not justified. Rosen :591–610, 2008) explores this idea by first offering a brief account of justification, and then two cases that he claims are counter examples to the justification thesis. The aim of this paper is to defend the justification thesis against Rosen’s two cases. The argument will proceed in the following way. First, I clarify a few things about the nature of culpable ignorance generally and why the justification thesis is so intuitive. I then present Rosen’s purported counterexamples. Once this is done, I argue that Rosen misses an important view of justification in the epistemology literature that I call the pragmatic view. I present a general picture of the pragmatic view, and explain how it fits naturally with our practices of criticizing people’s beliefs, including claims of culpable ignorance. Finally, I address Rosen’s cases arguing that, if the pragmatic view is right, then Rosen’s cases are not counterexamples to the justification thesis.
Keywords Moral Responsibility  Justification  Ignorance  Epistemology  Ethics of Belief
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-017-0992-4
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and Action.John Hawthorne & Jason Stanley - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):571-590.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2006 - Critica 38 (114):98-107.
The Wrong Kind of Reason.Pamela Hieronymi - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (9):437 - 457.
Responsibility for Believing.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Synthese 161 (3):357-373.

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