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dc.contributor.authorWilliams, Nancy Michele
dc.description.abstractIn this dissertation, I develop a set of conditions that show when average moral agents are morally responsible for failing to investigate whether conventional practices and beliefs are immoral. Specifically, I argue that people are culpable when (1) cultural inconsistencies or other indications of tension or conflict are present; (2) there is a logical connection or conceptual link between the accepted practice (or belief) and what is commonly believed to be immoral or controversial; and (3) we can reasonably show that people have a vested interest in not questioning conventional moral norms and/or suspicions of wrongdoing. In Chapter One, I explain that the question of whether one is culpable for not examining cultural norms is philosophically interesting because it is not clear if this involves an inability or a choice. My conditions, however, suggest that the failure to debate is probably due to a choice and thus blameworthy. I arrive at these conditions after critically examining three theories. In Chapter Two, I consider Michael Slote’s cultural defense view. I argue that his view underestimates the possibility of average moral agents forging a critical response to conventional norms in the course of socialization. In Chapter Three, I examine Cheshire Calhoun’s argument that it is unreasonable to assign blame when relevant moral knowledge is isolated among a group of experts. I show that her view cannot determine whether individuals are culpable because key concepts are problematic and ambiguous. In Chapter Four, I examine Michele Moody-Adams’ view and the concept of affected ignorance. Although I expand on the notion of affected ignorance and supplement her view with a virtue-based conception of doxastic responsibility, I argue that Moody-Adams’ approach best deals with the issue of people failing to debate established norms. Finally, in Chapter Five, I illustrate the effectiveness of my conditions with a contemporary case: the socially accepted practice of factory farming. I argue that affected ignorance not only perpetuates the current hegemonic attitude toward certain animals, but it also explains the lack of extensive public debate about factory farming practices.
dc.subjectMichael Slote
dc.subjectCheshire Calhoun
dc.subjectMichele Moody-Adams
dc.subjectSusan Wolf
dc.subjectJames Montmarquet
dc.subjectAffected Ignorance
dc.subjectFactory Farming
dc.subjectMoral Reflection
dc.subjectVirtue Epistemology
dc.titleCultural membership, moral responsibility, and inquiry
dc.description.advisorVictoria Davion
dc.description.committeeVictoria Davion
dc.description.committeeElizabeth Brient
dc.description.committeeRobert Burton

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