When Good People Do Bad Things

George Sher

in In Praise of Blame

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195187427
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786596 | DOI:
 When Good People Do Bad Things

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This chapter examines the Humean thesis that agents can only be blamed for their bad acts insofar as those acts are manifestations of defects in their characters. Several versions of this thesis are distinguished and criticized. The criticisms include both the familiar charge that the Humean can’t explain how someone can deserve blame for an act whose badness is “out of character” and the less familiar charge that on the Humean account, the badness of the act itself drops out as irrelevant. It is argued, however, that although Hume was wrong to say that every blameworthy act reflects a flaw in the agent’s character, it may be right to say that every blameworthy act is rooted in the agent’s character.

Keywords: Hume; character; character flaw; disposition; act; agent; blame; blameworthy

Chapter.  5918 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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