Do moral philosophers talk about 'complicity'? I don't necessarily mean in an economic system, and I certainly don't mean assisting e.g. the Nazi government to commit genocide. As an example (the question is very general) if I suspected that philosophy stackexchange were, whatever the intentions of its users, debasing philosophy, then am I complicit in that just by using the site? What if the site actually have some helpful social aspects (increasing interest in philosophy) and any cynicism about it was less tangible?

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    St Aquinas lists 9 ways
    – Rushi
    Jul 23, 2023 at 18:47
  • great comment, thanks, helpful @Rushi do you think it links to lesser evilism at all?
    – user66760
    Jul 23, 2023 at 18:50
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    That's a very different question... short answer Dunno! But no I hedge. A more tangential answer would be religiosity and evil are likely in inverse relation. Aquinas came to these by meditation on what it means to be a Christian
    – Rushi
    Jul 23, 2023 at 18:54
  • i'm agnostic @Rushi just find i feel something like "complicity" naturally/fairly easily. i were to find out that you were a nazi say (not suggesting you are) i would be more likely to dislike myself than feel disappointed in you. so strange how people are
    – user66760
    Jul 23, 2023 at 19:02
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    Agnosticism is very much a benefit and sometimes even a requirement for religiosity. See Carl Sagan talking on a vedic hymn which could as well be called Hymn to agnosticism. The opposite of I don't know (agnostic) is cocksureness: neither makes for good religion or good science
    – Rushi
    Jul 23, 2023 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


Yes, moral philosophers do discuss the concept of "complicity" in various contexts. Complicity refers to being involved or participating in the wrongdoing or unethical activities of others[6]. It can involve both commission (actively assisting or participating) and omission (failing to resist or prevent) [5].

In the field of moral philosophy, scholars explore the moral accountability and ethical implications of complicity[1][2][3]. They analyze different forms of complicity and examine the moral status of individuals who are complicit in various ways[1]. For example, Gregory Mellema presents a philosophical approach to the moral issues involved in complicity, discussing different types of complicity and their moral implications[1][2][3].

In your specific example, if you suspect that a platform like Philosophy Stack Exchange is debasing philosophy, using the site does not necessarily make you complicit in that wrongdoing. However, it is important to critically evaluate the platform and its impact on the field of philosophy. Consider the intentions and effects of your actions and whether they align with your ethical values[6].

It is worth noting that the concept of complicity can be complex and nuanced, and different philosophers may have varying perspectives on its moral implications. It is an ongoing topic of discussion and analysis within the field of moral philosophy.

Citations: [1] https://undpress.nd.edu/9780268035419/complicity-and-moral-accountability [2] https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/jso-2017-0002/html?lang=en [3] https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvpj78ss [4] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/japp.12320 [5] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/josp.12251 [6] https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/the-ethics-of-complicity

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    thanks for the references, though this sounds a bit like chat-gpt
    – user66760
    Jul 23, 2023 at 23:24
  • I did my best, good luck
    – user66933
    Jul 23, 2023 at 23:26
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    i am sympathetic to people using chat-gpt to help them answer questions, but a copy and paste job to an open question comes off a little much.
    – user66760
    Jul 23, 2023 at 23:42
  • I hope the links can be useful
    – user66933
    Jul 23, 2023 at 23:44
  • i would find them more interesting if you made a note of what they claimed. sorry, but attention spans, like most things, vary
    – user66760
    Jul 24, 2023 at 0:18

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