Restoring control: Comments on George Sher [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophia 36 (2):213-221 (2008)
In a recent article, George Sher argues that a realistic conception of human agency, which recognizes the limited extent to which we are conscious of what we do, makes the task of specifying a conception of the kind of control that underwrites ascriptions of moral responsibility much more difficult than is commonly appreciated. Sher suggests that an adequate account of control will not require that agents be conscious of their actions; we are responsible for what we do, in the absence of consciousness, so long as our obliviousness is explained by some subset of the mental states constitutive of the agent. In this response, I argue that Sher is wrong on every count. First, the account of moral responsibility in the absence of consciousness he advocates does not preserve control at all; rather, it ought to be seen as a variety of attributionism (a kind of account of moral responsibility which holds that control is unnecessary for responsibility, so long as the action is reflective of the agent’s real self). Second, I argue that a realistic conception of agency, that recognizes the limited role that consciousness plays in human life, narrows the scope of moral responsibility. We exercise control over our actions only when consciousness has played a direct or indirect role in their production. Moreover, we cannot escape this conclusion by swapping a volitionist account of moral responsibility for an attributionist account: our actions are deeply reflective of our real selves only when consciousness has played a causal role in their production.
|Keywords||Control Moral responsibility Attributionism Sher|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Angela M. Smith (2015). Responsibility as Answerability. Inquiry 58 (2):99-126.
Stephen Kershnar (2015). Moral Responsibility and Foundationalism. Philosophia 43 (2):381-402.
Similar books and articles
Angela M. Smith (2008). Control, Responsibility, and Moral Assessment. Philosophical Studies 138 (3):367 - 392.
Carl Ginet (2006). Working with Fischer and Ravizza's Account of Moral Responsibility. Journal of Ethics 10 (3):229-253.
Jesús H. Aguilar & Andrei A. Buckareff (2009). Agency, Consciousness, and Executive Control. Philosophia 37 (1):21-30.
A. Strand (2013). Group Agency, Responsibility, and Control. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 43 (2):201-224.
Neil Levy (2011). Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Oxford University Press.
John Martin Fischer (1997). Responsibility, Control, and Omissions. Journal of Ethics 1 (1):45-64.
George Sher (2008). Who's in Charge Here?: Reply to Neil Levy. Philosophia 36 (2):223-226.
James D. Steadman (2012). Moral Responsibility and Motivational Mechanisms. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):473 - 492.
John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (1998). Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility. Cambridge University Press.
Matthew Talbert (2011). Unwitting Behavior and Responsibility. Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (1):139-152.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads84 ( #53,005 of 1,934,424 )
Recent downloads (6 months)10 ( #52,871 of 1,934,424 )
How can I increase my downloads?