Willful Ignorance and Bad Motives

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Does willful ignorance mitigate blameworthiness? In many legal systems,
willfully ignorant wrongdoers are considered as blameworthy as knowing wrongdoers.
This is called the ‘equal culpability thesis’ (ECT). Given that legal practice
depends on it, the issue has obvious importance. Interestingly enough, however,
there exists hardly any philosophical reflection on ECT. A recent exception is
Alexander Sarch, who defends a restricted version of ECT. On Sarch’s view, ECT is
true whenever willfully ignorant agents incur additional blameworthiness for their
ignorance. In this paper, I defend an alternative view, according to which ECT is
true whenever the motives of willfully ignorant and knowing wrongdoers are
equally bad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409–1428
Number of pages20
Issue number6
Early online date6 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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