Moral Responsibility

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MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

Moral responsibility is directed not only at judgments concerning right or wrong. Sometimes, they are directed at determining whether a person or organization is morally responsible for having done something wrong.

Here we are discussing ‘Moral Responsibilty’
as a term which is used to express that a person is to blame for an action. A person is morally responsible only for those acts and their foreseen injurious effects which the person knowingly and freely performed or brought about and which was morally wrong for the person to perform or bring about; or, which the person knowingly and freely failed to perform or prevent and which it was morally wrong for the person to fail to perform or prevent.

A person is morally responsible for an injury or wrong if these qualifications are met: 1. the person caused or helped cause it, or failed to prevent it only when he could & should have; 2. the person did so knowing what he was doing;

3. the person did so on his own free will.

The absence of any of these three above elements will completely eliminate a person’s responsibility for an injury and so will fully “excuse” a person from any blame for the injury.

The important points are:
a. The person was not forced to do it (done willingly). b. The person had a choice.
c. The person knew what he was doing (done knowingly).
d. The person did the act deliberately (done intentionally).

The person can also be morally responsible for failing to do what he was obliged to do. Here, too, the person’s failure must be intentional.

I. A PERSON IS MORALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR AN INJURY OR WRONG IF THE PERSON CAUSED OR HELPED CAUSED IT,
OR FAILED TO PREVENT IT ONLY WHEN HE COULD AND SHOULD HAVE. - This qualification is necessary because the people cannot be held morally responsible for all the injuries they know about and failed to prevent.

- Therefore, we must say that a person is responsible for failing to prevent an injury only when, for some reason, the person had an obligation to prevent that particular injury.

II. A PERSON IS MORALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR AN INJURY OR WRONG IF THE PERSON DID SO KNOWING WHAT HE WAS DOING

- The person is not morally responsible for the injury or wrong if the person is ignorant of the fact that her actions will injure someone else.

However, ignorance does not always excuse a person
such as when a person stays deliberately ignorant of a certain matter
to escape moral responsibility,
or when a person negligently fails to take adequate steps to become informed
about a matter that is of known importance.

Therefore, a person is not morally responsible for the injury or wrong if a person may either be ignorant of the relevant moral standards. If a person genuinely did not know what he was doing was wrong, then he is not morally responsible for that wrong.

- Principle on Ignorance of Fact
Ignorance of fact eliminates moral responsibility for the simple reason that a person cannot be held responsible for something over which he or she has no control. And because people cannot control matters of which they are ignorant, their moral responsibility for such matters are eliminated.

Negligently or deliberately created ignorance is an exception to this principle because such ignorance can be controlled.
In so far as we can control our ignorance, we become morally responsible for it, and also for its injurious consequences.

- Principle on Ignorance of the Relevant Moral Standards Ignorance of the relevant moral standards e moral responsibility because a person is not responsible for failing to meet obligations of whose existence he is genuinely ignorant.

However, to the extent that our ignorance of moral standards...
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