Dadahead and I both find delusional child-murderer Andrea Yates more sympathetic than Iraq disinformation conduit Judy Miller. This is the result of a view that I alluded to some time ago -- what makes a person morally good is her intrinsic desire for the good of others. One can be a morally good person (or for that matter, a morally good dog) with any set of beliefs whatsoever. Evil people are particularly susceptible to some beliefs -- if you have some deep-seated desire to harm black people, this desire can get some wishful thinking going when combined with a desire to only harm people who do bad things, generating a belief that black people do lots of bad things. This is the belief with which your desires are maximally satisfied. What really makes you evil in this case is the desire to harm black people, not the resultant belief.
Nomy Arpaly has an example where aliens visit Earth, and their otherwise correct travel guide to the planet has one error in it -- it says that dark-skinned humans are genetically stupider and more predisposed to violence than others. If the aliens were simply misled by their travel guide, I wouldn't think they were morally bad for forming their racist beliefs. What makes people with racist beliefs morally bad is that these beliefs are usually irrationally caused by some desire for black people's suffering.
I offered this view to an undergraduate section here in Texas once, specifically making reference to the Yates case, and the students seemed fairly receptive to it: If the 'believing' part of somebody is completely malfunctioning, so that they believe that the best way to care for their children is to kill them, but the desiring part of them functions right and they desire whatever is best for their children, they can be morally good people even as they kill their children. (My knowledge of the Yates case isn't great, so I can't be certain on the facts of the situation here. But that's how I've been told about it.)
Citation Patterns Across Journals
1 hour ago