This summer I'm house-sitting for a professor, and this has given me access to quite a few books that I haven't (but should have) read. The other day, as I was enjoying a cold one on the balcony, I thumbed through Sellar's Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, and the following quote from Richard Rorty's introduction caught my attention.
Knowledge is inseparable from a practice--the practice of justifying one's assertions to one's fellow humans. It is not presupposed by this practice, but comes into being with it" (4).
Not being an epistemologist, I'm not really in a position to evaluate the merits of Rorty's claim, but I have recently begun to think that something parallel must be true with respect to blameworthiness. Replacing "knowledge" with "being blameworthy" and "assertions" with "actions" yields:
Being blameworthy is inseparable from a social practice--the practice of justifying one's actions to one's fellow humans. It is not presupposed by this practice, but comes into being along with it.
Now this seems fairly plausible to me, but I suspect it's pretty controversial. However, if it is true, then it suggests that blameworthiness doesn't have priority (explanatory or otherwise) over the practices of blaming. I'm wondering (a) whether other Garderners find this claim plausible (and if not, why not), and (b) what, if any, implications would it have for how we theorize about the nature and conditions of moral responsibility (e.g. if true, maybe we have to pay more attention to the exact nature and character of the practices of holding responsible)?