What Kind of Ignorance Excuses? Two Neglected Issues

Philosophical Quarterly 64 (256):478-496 (2014)
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The philosophical literature displays a lively debate on the conditions under which ignorance excuses. In this paper, I formulate and defend an answer to two questions that have not yet been discussed in the literature on exculpatory ignorance. First, which kinds of propositional attitudes that count as ignorance provide an excuse? I argue that we need to consider four options here: having a false belief, suspending judgement on a true proposition, being deeply ignorant of a truth, and having a true belief that falls short of knowledge. Second, ignorance of which propositions counts as an excuse? I discuss four candidates: ignorance of one’s obligation, ignorance that one is able to meet that obligation, ignorance of how to meet that obligation, and lack of foresight regarding that obligation. I argue that we can give a satisfactory account of exculpatory ignorance only if we pay attention to these two neglected issues.



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Rik Peels
VU University Amsterdam

Citations of this work

Explaining (away) the epistemic condition on moral responsibility.Gunnar Björnsson - 2017 - In Philip Robichaud & Jan Willem Wieland (eds.), Responsibility - The Epistemic Condition. Oxford University Press. pp. 146–162.
The epistemic condition for moral responsibility.Fernando Rudy-Hiller - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
A Capacitarian Account of Culpable Ignorance.Fernando Rudy-Hiller - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):398-426.

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