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Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 2Moral Responsibility,  Structural Injustice, and Ethics$
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Michael Brownstein and Jennifer Saul

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766179.001.0001

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Who’s Responsible for This?

Who’s Responsible for This?

Moral Responsibility, Externalism, and Knowledge about Implicit Bias

(p.10) (p.11) 1.1 Who’s Responsible for This?
Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 2

Natalia Washington

Daniel Kelly

Oxford University Press

The central claim we defend is that people can be responsible for actions that are influenced by implicit biases they do not know they have, and would disavow if they did. We frame this issue in terms of control-based and knowledge-based exculpating conditions that are typically associated with norms governing responsibility ascription, and consider whether anything about the character or operation of implicit biases inherently satisfies those conditions. We formulate and reject several arguments suggesting a positive answer, and present a thought experiment designed to support our central intuition, that the kind of knowledge relevant to moral responsibility and exculpation need not be “in the head” of the agent whose actions are being evaluated. Finally, we develop our view by situating it with respect to debates between internalists and externalists in other areas of philosophy.

Keywords:   implicit bias, moral responsibility, blame, externalism, knowledge, social role, epistemic environment, moral ecology

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