Understanding I Did Not Know: Evaluating Blame and Responsibility

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2069 Words
Date:  2023-03-16

More often, we hear people say, "I did not know." They use this claim as an excuse for their wrongs. But what exactly does the phrase mean? Some "I did not know" are entirely out of choice, while others may be genuine. The two groups are making this claim because they want to be exempted from the consequences of their actions. It is essential to evaluate what each statement means and decide who deserves to be exempted from blame and for what reason.

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

The author tries to explain a contradictory concept of blame. The author attempts to clarify under what circumstance a person should be blamed for their action (Arpaly, 658). Also, she explains the kind of ignorance that should be allowed and what ignorance should not be allowed. Her predicaments are evidence in our daily life when trying to make the right decision. The author uses multiple examples to jog the mind of the reader.

The author is asking whether someone should be blamed for doing something wrong though they don't know it the wrong thing. The statement has two sides. An individual may be doing something wrong unknowingly because their mind tells them it is right. To them, they use their perspective to judge what is wrong. On the other hand, someone may do something wrong because they did genuinely know it was wrong. Consider the following examples.

Hitler used to kill people because he did not know what he was doing was wrong. He enjoyed seeing the blood flow of children and the cries of their parents. The people around him seemed to enjoy the whole scene, and they encouraged him to kill more Christians. Hitler could not do what he did if he knew it was wrong. Jane kills her two-month baby when she falls on her while sleeping on the bed. The house help had placed the baby on Jane's bed without Jane's knowledge. The two people claim that they did not know what they did was wrong.

Jane is not to blame for what happened because she was acting out of ignorance. If she had any idea that the child was on the bed, she could have avoided falling on the baby. Hitler is not to blame for killing people because he did not know killing people was wrong. Also, the people around him did not tell him that it was wrong. If ignorance is an excuse, it means that the same ignorance that makes Jane not to be blamed for killing the baby should also excuse Hitler in killing people.

The author uses two terminologies to explain the fate of the two cases (Arpaly, 659). Jane made a factual error when she accidentally killed the baby. Jane knows killing is wrong, but she did not see the baby was on the bed. On the other hand, Hitler had all the facts of how his actions inflicted pain on people, but he chooses to continue. It is evidence that Hitler was fully aware of his works, and no facts were hidden from him. He continues to inflict pain because he does not know inflicting pain is wrong. Moral ignorance is when an individual is not aware of the moral consequence of his action. In this case, Hitler is morally ignorant. When the two examples are compared, one is likely to excuse factual error than moral ignorance. The question remains whether genuine ignorance is excusable than morality ignorance at all times.

Examples of praiseworthy can be used to conclude that moral ignorance cannot be excused the same way as factual ignorance. Factual ignorance can excuse someone from blame as well as from praiseworthy. For example, someone buys an expensive product from the market, and it turns out that the money for the item is donated to an orphanage. The buyer has given to the orphanage, an action that is praised and admired.

Hitler's action should be excused if moral and factual ignorance excuses the same way because he did not know what he was doing ( Arpaly, 659). Also, praiseworthy actions done out of ignorance should be canceled out. For example, Gottfried belongs to a religion that believes it is wrong to tell a lie, even when saving a life. Gottfried is confronted by a situation where he has to lie and save his friend. On the other hand, he can tell the truth and loses his friend. Gottfried decides to lie to save his friend. Gottfried knew it was immoral to lie, but he could not let his friend be killed just because he wanted to be moral.

Gottfried is morally ignorant because he mistakes what is right with what is wrong. Gottfried should not be praised if moral ignorance is excusable the same way as factual ignorance. This is because he did not know what he was doing was right. His action is comparable with Gretchen, who let us assume he tries to give Ken a sugar-like poison, but accidentally he gives him real sugar.

Gottfried is treated differently from Gretchen. The intentions of the two people are considered when analyzing their cations. Gretchen is regarded as an evil person because his intentions were not good. He defied his morals of not giving poison to kill Ken. Though the supposed poison did not kill Ken, Gretchen's motives make his actions wrong. On the other hand, Gottfried, though morally ignorant, is considered as a moral person because he went to the extent of defying his moral values to save his friend's life.

Gottfried does not seem like an evil person when he tells a lie the whereabouts of his friend. His intentions were good because he intended to save a life. Naturally, his actions can be considered morally right though Gottfried feels they were wrong. Though he is morally ignorant, Gottfried gets some credit for saving his friend's life. The moral ignorance can be viewed in the perspective of action, consequences, and the motive of the individual.

A case of Huck Fin and Gottfried are evidence that moral ignorance is not an excuse. Huck fin was taught that slaves were not allowed to be free. For this reason, he is shown to turn them in whenever he sees them anywhere (Arpaly, 660). From the teachings, Huck was indoctrinated that it is morally right to turn in slaves and ethically wrong not to turn them in. However, he defied moral value when he saved a slave. If a factual error were applied the same way as moral ignorance, Huck would be like Gretchen, who his evil motives turned out to be good. To us, Huck's actions of seeing all people as equal are a good thing though he does not think the same way.

When the above examples are examined, we can conclude that moral ignorance must be combined with the motives behind an action in deciding whether one deserves the blame or the praiseworthy. Moral ignorance is not a reason to cancel out the credit that Gottfried and Huck Fin deserve. In the same way, one may wonder why Hitler's ignorance should be used to excuse him from his actions. A lousy motive drove his actions of killing and torturing people.

The factual error does not only occur when one is ignorant of it but when one is misinformed about a fact. For example, John killing the Jewish on the ground that they have come up with a conspiracy to conquer the world is making a factual error (Arpaly, 660). There is no difference between him and Jane, who did not know that the child was on her bed. The only difference between the two is that John is making a global error while Jane's fault is local.

A significant factual error may sometimes excuse an individual's blame, depending on other factors. Some people made common factual errors because they do not have an option (Arpaly, 660). The person may not have the power to get a global fact. The author gives an example of Ford, an alien robot from another planet that is misguided that Asians are the only intelligent people. Ford believes that Asians are the smartest people wrong because he is misguided by the encyclopedias he had read.

Ford comes to earth and starts seeking advice from Asian-looking people because, according to the encyclopedia that he had read, Asians are the most intelligent people. In this case, the actions of Ford depict racism. However, one may not blame her for her actions because she was misguided by the book. The fact that Ford is a racist does not mean that she is morally wrong. Ford is just misinformed, and maybe he would make the right decision given the correct information.

Excusing a significant factual error sometimes depends on how hard an individual tried to get the facts and the motive behinds the action. Ford is justified because she used the information that she had, and she could not get any other information. Steve is a human being who, after reading some books, concludes that there is a Jewish conspiracy. As a good citizen, Steve starts executing the Jewish to ends the plot. However, Steve ignores the extensive evidence around him, which shows that he is wrong. Steve stays in a neighborhood that has poor Jewish who cannot get involved in the conspiracy. He also knows experts have discarded the Jewish conspiracy theory. Despite these facts, Steve continues to do his work. In this case, there is no excuse for Steve.Sometimes morality does not depend on rationality. There are cases when immoral actions driven from irrationality may be considered moral (Arpaly, 661). Steve's work is regarded as corrupt compared to that of Ford because he acted out of absurdity. It is dangerous to conclude that all immoral actions acted out of irrationality are immoral. Instead, one needs to consider various factors before making such a conclusion. For example, an action committed by mentally disabled individuals cannot be regarded as immoral. The person has no control over their brains. Whatever they do, they do it because their minds tell them that it is the right thing.

The source of irrationality decides how an action should be viewed. Steve's irrationality cannot be excused because they are driven by factors that he is able to control (Arpaly 661). A healthy, intelligent person like Steve can't hold the conspiracy theory unless other factors drive him. The reason that would make one to kill innocent people, and to believe in lies despite enough evidence, is driven by hatred. Steve's irrationality comes from a wrong motive, and they cannot be excused.

In concluding facts and errors perspective, moral ignorance is not an excuse for doing wrong actions. On the other hand, factual errors can only be excused when they are genuine and from the right motives. The case of Ford and the mentally disabled are good examples of minor mistakes, while the example of Steve reveals the opposite.

One may wonder whether one's duty should be considered when weighing whether an action is moral or immoral. Various people have a misguided idea of what is right or wrong. The question arises whether such people should be blamed. For example, an al-Shabaab believes that he has to kill Christians to protect god and his religion. Not killing Christians will make the terrorist guilty of not doing his duty. For this reason, he does his work well.

Someone's idea of morality should always align with the broad perspectives if they are to be considered moral. Though the terrorist is blameworthy of his action, he can still boast that at least he has a conscience. However, this conscience is misguided because it does not align with the conscience of other people. If someone's perspective of what their duty is makes them harm other people, then there is nothing conscience about their stand.

The misrepresentation of what is right has made other people make the lousy choice or ignore important things. For example, someone who wants to join Islam may be discouraged by the fact that Islam is known to be terrorists (663). Though this is not always the case, the many bad examples are enough to discourage someone. If Gottfried did not save his friend because of his cult believe, one may look at him and say they will never join any religion.

Arpaly's essay can be criticized for not discussing the role of free will. The author uses outside factors to blame for the immoral decisions of an...

Cite this page

Understanding I Did Not Know: Evaluating Blame and Responsibility. (2023, Mar 16). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/understanding-i-did-not-know-evaluating-blame-and-responsibility

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism