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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Are We Just a Bunch of Busybodies? (A Dialogue)

By Tamler Sommers
Flickers of Freedom Blog
Originally posted on November 9, 2013

Here is an excerpt:

Busybody [biz-ee-bod-ee] noun: a person who pries into or meddles in the affairs of others.

In the last two posts I described some cases that are hard for most existing theories of moral responsibility to handle.  What I want to suggest in this post is that any attempt to develop a systematic condition-based theory of responsibility is both philosophically and morally problematic.   Why morally?  Because it turns philosophers into meddlesome busybodies who stick their noses in the private affairs of others and don't know when to mind their own business.

So here's the set-up:  Sarah is at a party and has a few too many glasses of wine on a relatively empty stomach.  She overhears her colleague Emma talking about her in another conversation.  She’s drunk and she misinterprets the meaning of Emma’s remarks and gets angry.  Without thinking, Sarah confronts Emma and lets off some biting insults about her performance at work.  Emma is bewildered and humiliated in front of her friends and co-workers.  Soon, the initial misunderstanding is cleared up and Sarah, mortified, realizes she was way out of line. She offers a bunch of drunken apologies, but the damage is done.  Emma is furious and resentful and Sarah feels terrible overwhelming guilt what happened.

The entire blog post is here.

Note: This philosophical discussion of morality has direct implications for both individual and couples therapy.

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