Moral Innocence as Illusion and Inability

Philosophia 43 (2):355-366 (2015)
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Abstract

The concept of moral innocence is frequently referenced in popular culture, ordinary language, literature, religious doctrine, and psychology. The morally innocent are often thought to be morally pure, incapable of wrongdoing, ignorant of morality, resistant to sin, or even saintly. In spite of, or perhaps because of this frequency of use the characterization of moral innocence continues to have varying connotations. As a result, the concept is often used without sufficient heed given to some of its most salient attributes, especially those germane to moral agency and the moral community. In this article I intend to identify these attributes and propose that moral innocence is best defined as an inability to enter the moral community as a result of a trust in moral illusions. The content of the illusions pertains to several factors including one’s role in the moral community, one’s ability to wrong or harm others, the intricacies of one’s moral interaction with others, and the corresponding manifold complexities tangled up with the concepts of good and evil. Maintaining these illusions impedes or even prohibits an appropriate exchange of praise and blame with others. As membership in the moral community requires precisely this ability to engage in such an exchange, moral illusions necessarily give rise to an inability to participate in the moral community

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Zachary J. Goldberg
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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References found in this work

How to do things with words.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press. Edited by Marina Sbisá & J. O. Urmson.
Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Patterns of discovery.Norwood Russell Hanson - 1958 - Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press.

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