The counterfactual mental state of negligent criminal activity invites skepticism from those who see mental states as essential to responsibility. Here, I offer a revision of the mental state of criminal negligence, one where the mental state at issue is actual and not merely counterfactual. This revision dissolves the worry raised by the skeptic and helps to explain negligence’s comparatively reduced culpability.
For many philosophers, bad-history wrongdoers are primarily interesting because of what their cases might tell us about the interaction of moral responsibility and history. However, philosophers focusing on blameworthiness have overlooked important questions about blame itself. These bad-history cases are complicated because blame and sympathy are both fitting. When we are careful to consider the rich natures of those two reactions, we see that they conflict in several important ways. We should see bad-history cases as cases about whether and how (...) we should blame, rather than as cases giving us ready insight into the nature of moral responsibility. (shrink)
Duress is a defense in both law and morality. The bank teller who provides an armed robber with the bank vault combination, the innocent suspect who fabricates a story after hours of interrogation, the Good Samaritan who breaks into a private cabin in the woods to save a stranded hiker, and the father who drives at high speed to rush his injured child to the hospital—in deciding how to respond to agents like these, we should take into account that they (...) have acted under duress. In this paper, I offer a new duress defense, which I call “distinctive duress.” The distinctive-duress defense is neither ordinary justification nor ordinary excuse. Rather, it is a defense available to agents who act wrongly because they are appropriately insensitive to certain reasons. In the distinctive-duress cases, an agent’s normative sensitivities are rightly directed elsewhere, leading them awry. (shrink)
In deciding whether to forgive, we often focus on the wrongdoer, looking for an apology or a change of ways. However, to fully consider whether to forgive, we need to expand our focus from the wrongdoer and their wrongdoing, and we need to consider who we are, what we care about, and what we want to care about. The difference between blame and forgiveness is, at bottom, a difference in priorities. When we blame, we prioritize the wrong, and when we (...) forgive, we shift our priorities away from the wrong. Recognizing this essential role for priorities in forgiveness allows us to address a thorny puzzle in thinking about forgiveness: how is it that forgiveness can be both principled and elective? If there is sufficient reason to forgive, as will sometimes be the case because forgiveness is principled, how can it be reasonable to withhold forgiveness? Recognizing that forgiveness is a shift in our priorities dissolves this apparent tension between forgiveness being principled and forgiveness being elective. (shrink)
We can enrich the explanation of how we should treat kid wrongdoers by recognizing that it matters who does the blaming and punishing. That we should think about who does the blaming and punishing is perhaps unsurprising, but it is nonetheless often underappreciated. Here, I offer two lessons about blame and punishment by thinking about who judges kids. First, the right account of moral and legal responsibility should allow that kids may rightly blame each other, and I argue that we (...) can best accommodate this by relativizing the threshold of competence needed for responsibility. Second, although each kid is an individual and, as a result, the implications of immaturity vary signifi- cantly from kid to kid, we should give kids a break as kids, that is, based on our categorizing them as kids. That we should and do categorize in that way reflects the nature of the criminal justice system as an institution and the nature of us as social beings. (shrink)
Over the past few decades, “Big Tobacco” has spread its tentacles across the developing world with devastating results. The global incidence of smoking has increased exponentially in Africa, Asia and South America and it is leading to an equally rapid increase in the incidence of smoking-induced morbidity and mortality on these continents. The World Health Organization (WHO) has tried to respond to this crisis by devising a set of regulations to limit the spread of smoking, and many countries have bound (...) themselves to follow the WHO’s guidelines. This article provides an overview of these regulatory measures and the authors attempt to defend them from the perspective of liberty and autonomy. Their motivation is to countermand any attempt by the tobacco industry to attack the regulations on the grounds that they infringe the liberty rights of producers and consumers. It is also argued, however, that a blanket ban of the production, sale and consumption of tobacco cannot be justified on the grounds of autonomy alone. (shrink)