Philosophy Talk: Tainted by the sins of our fathers? | KALW

Philosophy Talk: Tainted by the sins of our fathers?

Jan 31, 2017

Should we feel guilt about wrongs committed by ancestors we never even knew?


Imagine discovering that your grandfather was a serial killer. Would you feel guilty about it? Would you be at all tempted to contact the families of his victims? Philosophers have long thought that we can only be responsible for what is under our voluntary control, but sometimes we feel guilty about events we didn’t bring about, simply because we are connected in some way to those who did. Many Germans, for instance, feel guilty about their ancestors' participation in the Nazi regime. Can we really be responsible for things outside of our control? Or are these feelings just vestiges of a more primitive moral outlook? John and Ken play innocent with Larry May from Vanderbilt University, author of Sharing Responsiblity. Sunday 1/29 at 10 am and Tuesday 1/31 at 12 noon.