Moral responsibility—what is all the Fuss about?

Acta Analytica 22 (1):29-47 (2007)
Examination of several accounts regarding the nature of moral responsibility allows the extraction of a conceptual core common to all of them. Relying on that core conception of moral responsibility, the paper explores what human life without moral responsibility would be like. That exploration establishes that many robust forms of human relationship and nonmoral normativity could continue, absent moral responsibility, even if moral responsibility were abandoned on incompatibilist grounds. Much more importantly, it also establishes, contra Waller and Pereboom, that only some forms of morality—so-called “behavioral” forms—remain possible without moral responsibility. The paper argues that normative moral approaches that take into account agent intentions in order to assess the moral status of action cannot be applied without moral responsibility of agents. Thus, morality without responsibility needs to be behavioral, not consequentialist, as has often been thought.
Keywords moral responsibility  normative moral theory  agency  intention  utilitarianism
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