David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Modern Schoolman 88 (1-2):123-144 (2011)
Most philosophers concede that one can properly be held morally responsible for intentionally omitting to do something. If one maintains that omissions are actions (negative actions, perhaps), then assuming the requisite conditions regarding voluntariness are met, one can tell a familiar story about how/why this is. In particular, causal theorists can explain the etiology of an intentional omission in causal terms. However, if one denies that omissions are actions of any kind, then the familiar story is no longer available. Some have suggested that this poses a special problem for causal theorists of action. I argue that it does not and, even more interestingly, that it renders a more nuanced understanding of voluntariness (since it no longer applies strictly to actions) and moral responsibility (since you might be to blame, but not for anything you’ve done).
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