254 days until the first class and . . .
Dammit . . .
In my continuing quest to understand what the professors at the University of Colorado are interested in, I purchased Questions of Character, edited by CU professor Iskra Fileva.
I was reading through her introduction to the first section of the book, when she started talking about the contributed article, “Character and Blame in Hume and Beyond” by Antti Kauppinen.
According to Hume, Kauppinen tells us, blameworthiness depends exclusively on whether an action of mine results from a character defect...It consists in passions such has hate and withdrawal of good will, whose purpose is to change the quality of the blameworthy agent's will in the relevant ways.
This, of course, is what I have argued for in my recent paper on condemnation and punishment - though I argue as well that it also changes the will of "observers" and even hypothetical blame and the blameworthiness of fictional characters is sufficient to have this effect.
I will need to find out what Hume said on the matter and build the proper references into my paper.
Kauppinen considers three challenges to the Humean view: first, it is widely supposed that responsibility requires voluntary control, but we have control only over our actions, not our character traits; second, the view does not allow us to account for the difference in our reactions in the cases of moral outcome luck; and third, intuitively, we are blameworthy for actions that are out of character.
Well, any challenge to the Humean view is a challenge to my view - so now I need to study these challenges and see if I can answer them.
As it turns out, the first challenge is one I have tackled before - I deny the connection between blameworthiness and free will. Indeed, blameworthiness depends on the causal power of blame and the causal power of character traits on intentional action.
I have given a lot of thought to the second problem and, basically, dismiss it as a mistake. One person strikes another. We can compare the case where the victim falls and gets back up to one where the victim falls, hits his head on a rock, and dies. An agent seems to deserve more blame in the second case even though the presence or absence of the rock was not his responsibility. I tend to hold that we should condemn assault according to the harms we can reasonably expect to result - not the harms actually inflicted. However, at the same time, it is difficult to know an agent's actual mental states and we have reason to take the actual consequences of an action as indicating what the agent intended.
The third problem, I would argue that whether an action is "out of character" is irrelevant. It really does not matter if one person's violent assault is "out of character" for that person - it still demonstrates that, at the moment, the character did not have a sufficiently strong aversion to performing a violent assault. Furthermore, the interest that people have in promoting a universal aversion to violent assault remains undiminished.
Then, according to Fileva's description:
Kauppinen goes on to connect the account of blame he extracts from Hume to contemporary discussions of the nature of blame. There are two main theories currently in the offing, he tells us: the reactional and the relational theory. On the former account, blame is a reactional attitude which addresses a demand to a wrongdoer. On the latter account, blame is relational: it consists in a judgment to the effect that the wrongdoer's actions have hurt a meaningful relationship, a judgment accompanied by a modification of expectations and intentions. Kauppinen suggests that Hume's view is best seen as a form of the relational theory of blame.
How about the idea that there is a third theory of punishment - a "rehabilitative" theory? Kauppinen apparently discusses that theory and assigns it to Hume, yet seems to fail to recognize that it might be a separate theory and better than the alternatives.
Anyway, now I have ANOTHER project to add to the projects I am already working on. I need to read this article and prepare a response. Furthermore, I wish to email that response to Mr. Kauppinen to see what he things of my response to his article. And I need to decide if I want to send a copy of that response to Professor Fileva.
I need more time!