Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Excusable moral doubt

    Javier González de Prado Salas (UNED)

Date: 14 October 2020

Time: 15:00

Place: Online

Abstract

Agents are often uncertain about the moral status of their actions. Can such moral uncertainty excuse an agent for failing to choose the option that is morally best among the alternatives available? A possible view is that moral uncertainty never exculpates because it always reveals a lack of concern for morally significant considerations (Harman 2011, 2015; Álvarez and Littlejohn 2016; also Weatherson 2019). Against this view, I will argue that, even if we grant that moral facts are knowable a priori, there are situations of moral uncertainty where a competent, fully informed agent may fail to do what is morally best in a way that does not manifest disregard for what is morally valuable. More specifically, I will consider situations of misleading moral self-doubt, in which the agent has (higher-order) evidence making her reasonably doubt whether she is being properly sensitive to a relevant moral concern. My claim is that this type of misleading self-doubt may undermine the agent’s access to otherwise available reasons (I call this *dispossessing defeat*). Failing to respond to such inaccessible reasons does not manifest a lack of regard for morally relevant considerations.