LANCOG Universidade de Lisboa
Making mistakes and getting away with it?
19 May 2017, 16:00
Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)
Abstract: Harman (2015, 2016) argues that there are permissible moral mistakes (PMM) – behaviours one should not engage in, all things considered, for moral reasons, but that are not wrong. She finds this category useful to solve a puzzle about accommodation: moral vegetarians believe that buying and eating meat is wrong; if they believe this, it seems that they should also believe that accommodating such actions is wrong; however, many of them seem to lack this latter belief since they accommodate the buying and eating of meat in various ways. Her suggestion, then, is that buying and eating meat are PMM and so moral vegetarians may have the implicit belief that those actions are not wrong. My main goal here is to show that Harman’s reasons for the existence of PMM are unconvincing. To this effect I criticize her two strategies: an argument against the thesis that all moral mistakes are wrong; and alleged counterexamples to the same thesis. I offer both a plausible way of denying one premiss of the argument and a reasonable interpretation of her examples as begging the question against her opponents. Consequently, without further reasons to accept PMM, we cannot get away with making mistakes like buying and eating meat and thereby solve the puzzle about vegetarians’ accommodation.