TOP Q (7): When, If Ever, Are Intellectual Mistakes Morally Culpable?

Can we morally blame people for failing to pursue the truth well enough or for employing irrational methods of belief formation?  Is belief something not in our volitional control at all?  Is it an entirely passive thing to “just believe” something?  Or even if we have some volitional control over what we believe, does it rise to the level of making moral praiseworthiness and blameworthiness possible?  And if so, under what conditions and with what limits?  If not, why not?  And if beliefs are not things we can take moral credit or blame for because they are not sufficiently under the will’s control, then how can any actions be moral or immoral since all acts of volition depend on beliefs about the good and such beliefs are not ever under our control?

And if faith is as epistemically illicit as I think it is, then is it morally culpable too in all, most, or at least some cases?

In a nutshell, today’s open philosophical question is, “When, if ever, are intellectual mistakes morally culpable?”

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • b

    As in the decision to go to war?

    • Daniel Fincke

      not what I was thinking of, but definitely a relevant related issue


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