Moral Responsibility and Motivational Mechanisms

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):473 - 492 (2012)
Abstract
This paper provides a discussion and defense of a recent formulation of the idea that moral responsibility for actions depends on the capacity to respond to reasons. This formulation appears in several publications by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, where the authors argue that moral responsibility involves a kind of control over one's actions which they call "guidance control." This kind of control does not require an agent's ability to do something different from what he actually does, but instead requires only that the actual process leading to the action be responsive in some suitable way to the reasons that the agent has for acting. After summarizing this view, I offer the following two innovations to the authors' view: I argue that the level of control required for moral responsibility (which I call "regular reasons-responsiveness") is much stronger than what the author's view allows for; and 2) I give a common-sense account of the kinds of motivational mechanism relevant to moral responsibility. Given these innovations, I show that this kind of view allows us to easily answer some counterexamples that appear in the current literature on moral responsibility
Keywords Philosophy  Moral responsibility  Free will
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John Martin Fischer (1999). The Value of Moral Responsibility. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 1:129-140.
Manuel Vargas (2009). Reasons and Real Selves. Ideas Y Valores 58 (141):67-84.
Neil Levy (2007). The Responsibility of the Psychopath Revisited. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (2):pp. 129-138.
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