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Logos & Episteme

Volume 2, Issue 4, 2011

Rik Peels
Pages 575-582

Tracing Culpable Ignorance

In this paper, I respond to the following argument which several authors have presented. If we are culpable for some action, we act either from akrasia or from culpable ignorance. However, akrasia is highly exceptional and it turns out that tracing culpable ignorance leads to a vicious regress. Hence, we are hardly ever culpable for our actions. I argue that the argument fails. Cases of akrasia may not be that rare when it comes to epistemic activities such as evidence-gathering and working on our intellectual virtues and vices. Moreover, particular cases of akrasia may be rare, but they are not exceptional when we consider chains of actions. Finally and most importantly, we can be culpable for our actions even if we do not act from akrasia or from culpable ignorance, namely in virtue of our unactivated dispositional beliefs.

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