The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 577–585 | Cite as

Gut-wrenching Choices and Blameworthiness

  • Justin CapesEmail author

While there is no shortage of disagreement about what is required for blameworthiness, it has traditionally been assumed that freely doing what you know to be wrong all things considered, despite being aware that it is within your power to do the right thing instead, suffices. Let us refer to this traditional assumption as the sufficiency thesis. The sufficiency thesis is plausible, but it is not beyond dispute. Reflection on certain situations in which a person can do the right thing but only at great personal sacrifice highlights some particularly pressing difficulties for it. My principal aim in this article is to show that those difficulties are not insuperable. Along the way, I also make some observations about the sorts of considerations that can limit the amount of blame of which a person is worthy without rendering the person entirely blameless.

The Challenge Outlined

The following story will serve as the backdrop for much of the subsequent discussion.1Ann finds herself in...


Moral Responsibility Objectionable Quality Immoral Behavior Wrong Thing Default Assumption 
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My thanks to Andrew Khoury, David McNaughton, Daniel Miller, Michael McKenna, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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