Other People's Errors


Larry Alexander

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From a moral standpoint, how should our behavior be affected by other people’s errors? Those errors may be innocent ones of misinterpreting our actions or intentions, or they may be acts of immorality (moral errors). In this paper I shall first take up difference stock scenarios involving others’ innocent errors and then turn to stock scenarios involving others’ moral errors. For both types, there are structural similarities from stock scenario to stock scenario, suggesting that our behavior should be affected in each scenario the same way. However, although each stock scenario has received some philosophical attention, no one to my knowledge has noted the structural similarities among them. My hypothesis is that if the structure of the moral problem is the same from one stock scenario to another, the moral import for our behavior should be the same. If I am correct, the implications are significant.