(Text by Claire Field)
The RoR workshop, Mistakes, Ignorance, and Blameworthiness, took place on 1–2 September 2020, online via Zoom. One of RoR’s ERC research fellows, Claire Field, took the lead in organising it. The workshop brought together epistemologists, ethicists, and other philosophers to examine new work on the relationship between mistakes, ignorance and blameworthiness.
We discussed four papers from philosophers working in this area, which were circulated in advance of the workshop.
Themes we explored included the relationship between epistemic and moral responsibility, whether beliefs about blameworthiness are relevant to facts about blameworthiness, under what conditions we are blameworthy for mistakes about morality, as well as our intellectual vices, and how we ought to manage our beliefs about morality.
While an online conference necessarily lacks something (though it can be hard to say exactly what), the online format brings with it some of its own perks. For example, we were able to bring together philosophers from across the globe without any of the usual hassle or environmental guilt. It’s not every day that a workshop can host presenters from Cardiff and New Orleans in the same day!
Day 1 began with Alessandra Tanesini (Cardiff). Her paper, “Blaming Responses to Intellectual Vices” made use of three well-known faces of responsibility: attributability, answerability and accountability to show that responsibility for intellectual vices is not threatened by problems of control. Next up was Nathan Biebel (Tulane). His paper, “Blame Without Blameworthiness” argued that a reasonable belief that someone is blameworthy is not only necessary but also sufficient for that person actually being blameworthy.
On Day 2, we began with Zoe Johnson King (USC). Her paper “Varieties of Moral Mistake”, explored blameworthiness for moral mistakes by identifying and distinguishing some underexplored kinds of moral mistakes. This was followed by the final paper of the workshop, from Holly Smith (Rutgers). Her paper “Moral Decision Guides: Counsels of Morality or Counsels of Rationality?”, argued that decision guides used to make moral decisions must be accepted as a special kind of moral Principle, rather than a principle of rationality.
Finally, we gathered as floating heads for some virtual socialising using SpatialChat. While no replacement for old-fashioned analogue socialising, it was nice to chat with philosophers from as far afield as Brazil, Singapore, and the US.
We would like to thank all the speakers for sharing their work with us, and all the participants for giving us their time and attention. We hope to see you all again soon!