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 toadvance our understanding of the important dispute in the theoryof responsibility between structuralists and historicists.This makes it all the more important to take the measure of Responsibility and Control, their mostrecent contribution to the historicist side of the discussion. In this paper I examine some novelfeatures 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 newelements to solve two problems untouched by earlier versions of theirtheory: the ``problem of strange preference patterns'''' and the ``reasons-responsivenessproblem of induction.'''' I argue that they cannot solve these problemswithin the theoretical strictures they place upon themselves, namely aminimalist meta-ethics of value and practical reason, and attentiononly to certain formal features of preference-acquisition. I concludethat historicist compatibilists cannot hope to meet the challenge ofstructuralist compatibilism, from the one side, and of incompatibilism,from the other, unless they take on the full task of accounting for thedifference between the child''s acquisition (via education) of autonomoussubstantive preferences and values and her acquisition (viaindoctrination) of heteronomous ones.
Keywords autonomy  compatibilism  control  freedom  historicism  incompatibilism  John Martin Fischer  practical reason  responsibility  structuralism
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