No Excuses: Performance Mistakes in Morality

  • Santiago Amaya
  • John M. Doris
Reference work entry


Philosophical accounts of moral responsibility are standardly framed by two platitudes. According to them, blame requires the presence of a moral defect in the agent and the absence of excuses. In this chapter, this kind of approach is challenged. It is argued that (a) people sometimes violate moral norms due to performance mistakes, (b) it often appears reasonable to hold them responsible for it, and (c) their mistakes cannot be traced to their moral qualities or to the presence of excuses. In the end, the implications for discussions of moral responsibility are discussed.

Associated Press report Posted: 01/25/2013 08:18:46 AM MSTCOLONIE, N.Y. (AP) – Authorities say a New York man who left his 1-year-old son in his car for eight hours in frigid weather only realized his mistake after a call from his wife. Police in the Albany suburb of Colonie say the man forgot to drop off his son at day care and left the child strapped in the backseat of the car when he parked outside his office Thursday morning.


Moral Responsibility Moral Reason Situational Factor Negative Condition Moral Norm 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program and Philosophy DepartmentWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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