Sliwa- The Power of Excuses
Sliwa starts of her article describing excuses and what they entail. She explains that they are a commonplace and they are how we practice holding each other accountable and morally responsible in our daily lives. Sliwa sets out to develop a unified account of excuses, this includes learning what they are and what they do.
Sliwa first looks at the Obligation Account and explains that it says, “excuses can render blame inappropriate in virtue of showing that although it may look like we have violated a particular moral norm, we have not in fact done so (Sliwa, 3).” This account is defended by Wallace who believes excuses show that the agent didn’t really violate the moral obligations people accept after all. This means that it gives people a reason to not hold other accountable for blame when the excusing conditions are present.
Later she explains the two major challenges to this account: one is to distinguish excuses from considerations that show than an agent did not act, and hence did not violate her obligations as a type of excuse, second is to give a principled distinction between excuses and justifications. She shows the difference by saying if a person choosing to do one thing over another thing or in order to avoid the other thing, then it is an excuse. However if given the circumstances it was genuinely permissible to make the chose that was made then the choice becomes justified.
The next account looked at by Sliwa is known as the Character Account. The Character Account states, “an objectively wrong action (or an action in some way out of order) is excused if it does not manifest some defect of character(Sliwa, 8).” This account improves on the Obligation account because it respects the distinction between excuses and justification, however the Character Account still has it’s own drawbacks such as being hard to nail details.