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Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC H3T 1J7
Elizabeth Harman and Gideon Rosen disagree about whether moral ignorance exculpates. I examine their arguments and compare to a more moderate position, based on a ‘reasonable person’ interpretation of excusable ignorance. This view takes epistemic accessibility to be of significance to culpability. But I argue that a subject’s access needs to be assessed via relevant counterfactuals, not merely by narrow intuitions about ‘available evidence’, a suggestion motivated by looking at cases of ‘motivated ignorance’. This idea exposes what I take to be problematically artificial in how Harman and Rosen approach their disagreement: they stipulate adequate procedural management of the subjects’ beliefs as a background condition in cases they discuss. I find, however, that in certain significant cases, procedural mismanagement is explicable by the very reason that both explains the ignorance and makes it culpable.