Date of Award

2012

First Advisor

Samuel Ruhmkorff

Second Advisor

Brian Conolly

Third Advisor

Eden-Renee Hayes

Abstract

Most moral philosophers assume that a blameworthy action must either be intentional and done with full knowledge of its consequences, or reflect some blameworthy character trait held by the person doing the action. But if this is true, it implies that there are no blameworthy cases of genuinely unintentional actions that do not imply a blameworthy character. In this thesis, I argue that actions done from implicit racial biases are exactly these kinds of actions, and that such actions are blameworthy. To do this, I construct a new theory of blameworthiness by focusing on an uncontroversial instance of a blameworthy unintentional action – forgetting – and argue that this theory also implies the blameworthiness of actions done from implicit racial biases. According to this theory, actions are blameworthy if and only if what causes them is fairly attributable to the agent and if the action violates the standards of some relationship the agent stands in with the person who is blaming the agent. Because this theory provides a better understanding of the blameworthiness of standard cases as well as the blameworthiness of forgetting and actions done from implicit racial biases, I conclude that this is a better theory of blameworthiness than any other currently in the literature.

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