Do Ignorance and “External Forces” Rid You of Culpability?

Now, I know what everyone is thinking and yes, we should hold Nicholas Cage to different morals due to the abundance of terrible movies he has been in.  However, this is not the topic of my post today.  Nicholas Cage’s character is named Cameron Poe, a decorated United States Army Ranger who is convicted of involuntary manslaughter because he defended his girlfriend from a couple of drunks.  He was held to a higher standard of the law because of his military training.  I think Cameron was just a victim of bad circumstance.  Some would consider Cameron a hero for protecting not only his country but his girlfriend in this particular situation.  The author of our book argues that heroism is not required for being good men and women.  He uses the example of the Austrian man in World War II, who refused to join the Nazi Empire.  His friends who were in the same situation should not be regarded as morally culpable because they were forced into the situation.  Do we really want to live in a society that practices obeying all command even if it is not right and then using the excuse that they are not morally culpable.  If that was the case, all officers who committed heinous acts during World War II could have used the excuse that they were forced into the situation.  People have to be brought to justice for their actions, no matter the cause behind them.  So, perhaps Cameron Poe deserved his punishment.  The main point is that we need heroes in our society.

Would we consider ourselves free of culpability if we had “no other option.”  Most of the clothing purchased in the United States is made in the countries like China, India, Bangladesh, etc., where factories commit terrible human rights atrocities.  The purchases we make support these horrific acts.  Are we morally culpable for the treatment of these people because we buy the clothes they manufacture -yes.  According to the author, however, we would not be culpable because we really do not have any other choice.  Without being morally culpable for all actions, we get nothing but stagnation in society.


One thought on “Do Ignorance and “External Forces” Rid You of Culpability?

  1. It’s interesting to note the idea of Americans ultimately supporting the inhumane treatment of factory workers in different countries due to our consumerist nature. I believe it is true that we do– I most likely do every time I shop for new clothes and I will admit it. In turn, yes, we are morally culpable because we continuously feed the issue without putting an end to it. However, I disagree that we have no other choice. It is solely that we look for the items that are the least expensive and the easiest to find– hence, internationally manufactured items.
    If we took the extra effort to search for items made in America or even internationally manufactured (with the correct and humane knowledge of how they were made) it could ultimately allow for less culpable society and a more responsible one.

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