Responsibility, manipulation and ownership: Reflections on the Fischer/Ravizza program

Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):115-130 (2005)
Abstract
John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza have constructed a theory of moral responsibility according to which agents are responsible only if they take responsibility in a particular way. Crucial to taking responsibility is coming to adopt a certain set of beliefs about oneself, such as the belief that one is a legitimate target of attitudes like gratitude and resentment, praise and blame. Moreover, agents must come to adopt this belief in a way that is ‘appropriately based’ upon their evidence, if they are to be genuinely responsible for what they do. In this paper I argue that agents need not meet these conditions in order to be morally responsible. I offer a case in which the agent thinks of himself as responsible, appears to be responsible, but fails to take responsibility in Fischer and Ravizza’s sense. I then argue that Fischer and Ravizza’s account of responsibility for consequences is in conflict with their contention that individuals who reject the justifiability of responsibility ascriptions fail, thereby, to be morally responsible agents.
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