A Puzzle Concerning Blame Transfer

Abstract

Suppose that you are a doctor and that you prescribed a drug to a patient who died as a result. Suppose further that you could have known about the risks of this drug, and that you are blameworthy for your ignorance. Does the blameworthiness for your ignorance ‘transfer’ to blameworthiness for your ignorant action in this case? Many are inclined accept that such transfer can occur and that blameworthiness for ignorant conduct can be derivative or indirect in this way. In this paper, we motivate a new problem for transfer proponents. Extant accounts cannot satisfactorily distinguish between agents who are blameworthy for their ignorance and their resulting ignorant conduct and agents who are blameworthy for their ignorance but not for their resulting ignorant conduct. We defend a solution that we call the ‘concern constraint’ that clearly distinguishes these cases. Our solution is distinct from the much discussed foreseeability constraint, and it is less restrictive than Holly Smith's quality of will condition. We argue that any account of derivative or indirect blameworthiness for ignorant action should take the concern constraint on board.

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Author Profiles

Philip Robichaud
VU University Amsterdam
Jan Willem Wieland
VU University Amsterdam

References found in this work

Unprincipled Virtue. [REVIEW]Manuel Vargas - 2003 - The Journal of Ethics 8 (2):201-204.
Skepticism About Moral Responsibility.Gideon Rosen - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):295–313.
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.

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Citations of this work

Derivative Culpability.Martin Montminy - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (5):689-709.
Blame Transfer.Jan Willem Wieland & Philip Robichaud - forthcoming - In Philip Robichaud & Jan Willem Wieland (eds.), Responsibility - The Epistemic Condition. Oxford University Press.

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