Nigel Pleasants
University of Exeter
In the space of their 16-month posting to Poland, the 500 men of Police Battalion 101 genocidally massacred 38,000 Jews by rifle and pistol fire. Although they were acting as members of a formal security force, these men knew that they could avoid participation in killing operations with impunity, and a substantial minority did so. Why, then, did so many participate in the genocidal killing when they knew they did not have to? Landmark historical studies by Christopher Browning and Daniel Goldhagen proffer contrasting explanatory answers to this troublesome question. This article focuses on a criticism that has often been leveled at the internal coherence of Goldhagen’s controversial explanatory theory. Goldhagen’s explanation is that the men freely, willingly, and responsibly participated in the genocidal killing because of their beliefs about Jews—beliefs that they were causally determined to hold. Critics charge that this is incoherent: How could perpetrators have been passive recipients of determinist...
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2017, 2018
DOI 10.1177/0048393117739974
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,159
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

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Deciding to Believe.Bernard Williams - 1970 - In Problems of the Self. Cambridge University Press. pp. 136--51.
On Being Responsible and Holding Responsible.Angela M. Smith - 2007 - The Journal of Ethics 11 (4):465-484.

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Logic of the Goldhagen Debate.Richard Kamber - 2000 - Res Publica 6 (2):155-177.
The Psychology of Genocide.Kristen Monroe - 1995 - Ethics and International Affairs 9.
Understanding the Moral Phenomenology of the Third Reich.Geoffrey Scarre - 1998 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (4):423-445.
Collective Action and the Peculiar Evil of Genocide.Bill Wringe - 2006 - Metaphilosophy 37 (3-4):376–392.
A Neo‐Stoic Approach to Epistemic Agency.Sarah Wright - 2013 - Philosophical Issues 23 (1):262-275.
Some Philosophical and Legal Reflections on Remembering the Holocaust.Alan S. Rosenbaum - 2002 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 16 (1):33-40.
Genocide and the Moral Agency of Ethnic Groups.Karen Kovach - 2006 - Metaphilosophy 37 (3-4):331–352.
Moral Responsibility and the Concept of Agency.Helen Steward - 2011 - In Richard Swinburne (ed.), Free Will and Modern Science. Oup/British Academy.


Added to PP index

Total views
34 ( #321,293 of 2,454,811 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,241 of 2,454,811 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes