Reasons-responsiveness and ownership-of-agency: Fischer and Ravizza's historicist theory of responsibility [Book Review]

Journal of Ethics 6 (3):199-234 (2002)
No one has done more than John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza to advance our understanding of the important dispute in the theory of responsibility between structuralists and historicists. This makes it all the more important to take the measure of Responsibility and Control, their most recent contribution to the historicist side of the discussion. In this paper I examine some novel features of their most recent version of responsiblity-historicism, especially their new notions of "moderate reasons-responsiveness" and "ownership-of-agency." Fischer and Ravizza intend these new elements to solve two problems untouched by earlier versions of their theory: the "problem of strange preference patterns" and the "reasons-responsiveness problem of induction." I argue that they cannot solve these problems within the theoretical strictures they place upon themselves, namely a minimalist meta-ethics of value and practical reason, and attention only to certain formal features of preference-acquisition. I conclude that historicist compatibilists cannot hope to meet the challenge of structuralist compatibilism, from the one side, and of incompatibilism, from the other, unless they take on the full task of accounting for the difference between the child's acquisition of autonomous substantive preferences and values and her acquisition of heteronomous ones.
Keywords autonomy  compatibilism  control  freedom  historicism  incompatibilism  John Martin Fischer  practical reason  responsibility  structuralism
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DOI 10.1023/A:1019561013541
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