Moral complicity: An expressivist account
Parker, Joseph Clinton
Doctor of Philosophy
In this project, I argue that moral complicity is best conceptualized as conduct that expressively aligns one with another agent's wrongdoing. Expressive alignment occurs as a result of one agent expressing a positive desire, attitude, or belief toward another agent's (a primary agent's) wrongdoing. I use William Alston's account of illocutionary acts to elucidate the notion of complicit expression. I go on to argue that causal facilitation can also function as a form of positive expression toward a primary agent's wrongdoing. I then compare and contrast the expressivist account with accounts of complicity put forth by Sanford Kadish, Judith Kissell, and Christopher Kutz. I then argue that the wrongness of complicit conduct stems from the fact that it expresses antipathy and disregard for the moral law. Finally, I use the expressivist account to analyze three different cases of purported complicity: stem cell research, referrals for physician-assisted suicide, and the bombing of Dresden.