The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Nov 19, 2009
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Gideon Rosen (Princeton University)
Duress and the Limits of Responsibility

The paper discusses a real case in which a soldier in the Bosnian Serb army participated in the mass murder of innocent civilians only because he was compelled at gunpoint to do so. We have three questions: Was the act wrong? If so, does the duress under which the soldier acted somehow excuse his conduct (in whole or in part). And finally, if duress amounts to an excuse in this case, how can we explain its exculpatory force? Reflection on the case permits us to clarify an important principle in the theory of responsibility according to which an act is blameworthy only if it manifests “ill will”.