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Against Moral Responsibility$
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Bruce N. Waller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016599

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016599.001.0001

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Character-Fault and Blame-Fault

Character-Fault and Blame-Fault

(p.153) 9 Character-Fault and Blame-Fault
Against Moral Responsibility

Bruce N. Waller

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses moral responsibility in relation to the concepts of character-fault and blame-fault. It begins by presenting examples that provide an overview of the concepts and their relation to each other and to moral responsibility in general. It presents as an example psychologist Martin Seligman’s “learned helplessness” experiments, which conditioned dogs give up quickly and make no effort to escape painful shocks. Their resigned acceptance of suffering, however, is a mark of deep helplessness, not freedom. In the case of an abused wife who yearns and struggles for freedom, it is easy to say that keeping herself trapped inside the same abusive pattern is her own fault, but this is a short-sighted view. This is actually the product of a deeply conditioned character flaw—a character-fault—and not a blame-fault.

Keywords:   moral responsibility, character-fault, blame-fault, Martin Seligman, learned helplessness, resigned acceptance, freedom

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