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Anna: I think you're way too hard on that Nazi guy. Sure he's loud and violent but you can't blame him. Belle: "Can't blame him?" Why ever not? Did

Anna: I think you're way too hard on that Nazi guy. Sure he's loud and violent but you can't blame him.

Belle: "Can't blame him?" Why ever not? Did you see what he did?

Anna: Of course, it was all over the internet. You can't blame him because in fact, no one is ever to be blamed for what they do.

Belle: What are you talking about? If something bad happens, and a person is responsible for that bad thing happening, why can't you blame them for it?

Anna: Well, we're on the same page to this extent: whether someone deserves blame for something depends on whether they are responsible for it. However, I think it's arguable that no one is ever really responsible for anything, even their own actions. 

Belle: What? How can that be?

Anna: Well, think of it this way. When you do something, you are either acting voluntarily or not. And, of course, if you are not acting voluntarily, then you are not responsible for the outcome. For example, if you hurt someone while falling down the stairs you are not responsible for their injury. 

Belle: OK, but what if you do act voluntarily, like the Nazi clearly did?

Anna: If you do act voluntarily, then your actions are the results of your motivations --- your values, beliefs, desires and even your personality. So, you can only be thought of as responsible if your motivations are up to you. But our motivations are not really up to us: they are shaped by our society and our environment, and perhaps even our genes. So, no one is ever really to blame for what they do, not even the Nazi.


Your task: Analyse and assess Anna's arguments.

Your answer should take the form of a short, focused piece of writing, of strictly no more than 700 words. In your answer you will need to spell out explicitly Anna's reasoning. What are her conclusions? What are her premises? Are there any hidden premises? Are the arguments valid? Are they sound? In your opinion, which of their premises are doubtful, or false?

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