This paper revisits the issue of whether responsibility is essentially historical. Roughly, the leading question here is this: Do ways in which we can acquire pertinent antecedents of action, such as beliefs, desires, and values, have an essential bearing on whether we are responsible for actions that are suitably related to these antecedents? I argue, first, that Michael McKenna’s interesting case for nonhistoricism is indecisive, and, second, his brand of modest historicism, while highly insightful, yields results concerning responsibility that ought (...) to be resisted. I conclude by motivating a hybrid view: it implies that responsibility does not require that one have a past, but should one have a past, it must be a past of a certain sort. (shrink)
Architecture has a marked influence on ethical perception. Ethical perception, in turn, has a pronounced influence on what we are morally responsible for, our decisions, choices, intentional omissions, and overt actions, for instance. It thus stands to reason that architecture bears saliently on moral responsibility. If we now introduce a widely accepted premise that one of the fundamental aims of education is to see that our children turn into morally responsible agents, we can further infer that architecture has an influence (...) on educating for moral responsibility. Our primary aims in this paper are, first, to uncover associations between architecture and ethical perception, on the one hand, and moral .. (shrink)
This paper highlights and discusses some key positions on free will and moral responsibility that I have defended. I begin with reflections on a Strawsonian analysis of moral responsibility. Then I take up objections to the view that there is an asymmetry in freedom requirements for moral responsibility and moral obligation: obligation but not responsibility requires that we could have done otherwise. I follow with some thoughts on the viability of different sorts of semi-compatibilism. Next, I turn to defending the (...) “luck objection“ to a popular libertarian account of the control that responsibility requires. This is, roughly, the objection that when our decisions are indeterministically caused, their occurrence is a matter of responsibility-undermining luck. Finally, I comment on Frankfurt examples. (shrink)
Discussion regarding education’s aims, especially its ultimate aims, is a key topic in the philosophy of education. These aims or values play a pivotal role in regulating and structuring moral and other types of normative education. We outline two plausible strategies to identify and justify education’s ultimate aims. The first associates these aims with a normative standpoint, such as the moral, prudential, or aesthetic, which is overriding, in a sense of ‘overriding’ to be explained. The second associates education’s ultimate aims (...) with the intrinsic value of personal well-being. We advance reasons to doubt that these strategies are successful. The shortcomings of these strategies impute yet further urgency to the issue of how we are to ascertain and validate education’s ultimate aims. (shrink)
Recently, Neil Levy has proposed that an agent can acquire freedom-relevant agential abilities by virtue of the conditions in which she finds herself, and in this way, can be thought of as partially constituted by those conditions. This can be so even if the agent is completely ignorant of the relevant environmental conditions, and even if these conditions play no causal role in what the agent does. Drawing upon these resources, Levy argues that Frankfurt-style examples are not cogent. In this (...) paper, we explain why his argument fails. (shrink)
Take determinism to be the thesis that for any instant, there is exactly one physically possible future (van Inwagen 1983, 3), and understand incompatibilism regarding responsibility to be the view that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility. Of the many different arguments that have been advanced for this view, the crux of a relatively traditional one is this: If determinism is true, then we lack alternatives.1 If we lack alternatives, then we can't be morally responsible for any of our behavior. (...) Therefore, if determinism is true, then we can't be morally responsible for any of our behavior. The second premise is a version of the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP): persons are morally .. (shrink)
I address three issues in this paper: first, just as many have thought that there is a requirement of alternative possibilities for the truth of judgments of moral responsibility, is there reason to think that the truth of judgments of intrinsic value also presupposes our having alternatives? Second, if there is this sort of requirement for the truth of judgments of intrinsic value, is there an analogous requirement for the truth of judgments of moral obligation on the supposition that obligation (...) supervenes on goodness? Third, if the truth of judgments of intrinsic value and those of moral obligation do presuppose our having access to alternatives, what should be said about whether determinism imperils the truth of such judgments? I defend an affirmative answer to the first question, a more guarded answer to the second, and a yet more restrained answer to the third. (shrink)
I argue that emotional sensitivity (or insensitivity) has a marked negative influence on ethical perception. Diminished capacities of ethical perception, in turn, mitigate what we are morally responsible for while lack of such capacities may altogether eradicate responsibility. Impairment in ethical perception affects responsibility by affecting either recognition of or reactivity to moral reasons. It follows that emotional insensitivity (together with its attendant impairment in ethical perception) bears saliently on moral responsibility. Since one distinguishing mark of the psychopath is emotional (...) insensitivity, emotional insensitivity and the resulting impairment in moral perception either excuses the psychopath from moral culpability or moderates the degree to which he is culpable. (shrink)
In this paper, I expose a conundrum regarding divine creation as Leibniz conceives of such creation. What energizes the conundrum is that the concept of omnibenevolence—“consequential omnibenevolence”—that the Leibnizian argument for the view that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds presupposes, appears to sanction the conclusion that God has no practical reasons to create the actual world.
Practical reasons, roughly, are reasons to have our desires and goals, and to do what might secure these goals. I argue for the view that lack of freedom to do otherwise undermines the truth of judgments of practical reason. Thus, assuming that determinism expunges alternative possibilities, determinism undercuts the truth of such judgments. I propose, in addition, that if practical reason is associated with various values in a specified way, then determinism precludes such values owing to determinism's imperiling practical reason.
Semi-compatibilism regarding responsibility is the position according to which determinism is compatible with moral responsibility quite apart from whether determinism rules out the sort of freedom that involves access to alternative possibilities. I motivate the view that whether or not semi-compat..
What is the connection between action that is caused by inauthentic antecedent springs of action, such as surreptitiously engineered-in desires and beliefs, and moral obligation? If, for example, an agent performs an action that derives from such antecedent springs can it be that the agent is not obligated to perform this action owing to the inauthenticity of its causal antecedents? I defend an affirmative response, assuming that we morally ought to bring about the states of affairs that occur in the (...) intrinsically best worlds accessible to us and that a version of attitudinal hedonism is the axiology for ranking worlds. (shrink)
Introduction: The metaphysics of responsibility and philosophy of education -- Moral responsibility, authenticity, and the problem of manipulation -- A novel perspective on the problem of authenticity -- Forward-looking authenticity in the internalism/externalism debate -- Authentic education, indoctrination, and moral responsibility -- Moral responsibility, hard incompatibilism, and interpersonal relationships -- On the significance of moral responsibility and love -- Love, commendability, and moral obligation -- Love, determinism, and normative education.
The Direct Argument for the incompatibility of determinism and moral responsibility is so christened because this argument allegedly circumvents any appeal to the principle of alternate possibilities – a person is morally responsible for doing something only if he could have avoided doing it – to secure incompatibilism. In this paper, I first summarize Peter van Inwagen’s version of the Direct Argument. I then comment on David Widerker’s recent responses to the argument. Finally, I cast doubt on the argument by (...) constructing counterexamples to a rule of inference it invokes. (shrink)
An overarching aim of education is the promotion of children's personal well-being. Liberal educationalists also support the promotion of children's personal autonomy as a central educational aim. On some views, such as John White's, these two goals—furthering well-being and cultivating autonomy—can come apart. Our primary aim in this paper is to argue for a species of a stronger view: assuming preferentism as our axiology, we suggest that there is an essential association between the autonomy of our springs of action, such (...) as desires and beliefs, on the one hand, and personal well-being, on the other. If we are right about this link, then we have at our disposal a partial (non-instrumental) validation of the liberal ideal of autonomy. (shrink)
Whether indeterminism undermines moral responsibility by subverting one or more of responsibility’s requirements is something that has received close attention in the recent literature on free will. In this paper, I take issue with Gerald Harrison’s attempt to deflect various considerations for the view that indeterminism threatens responsibility either by threatening the control that responsibility requires or by posing a problem of luck.
Externalism is the view that facts about one's history or past in the external world that bear on the acquisition of one's responsibility-grounding psychological elements are pertinent to whether one's actions are free and, hence, pertinent to whether one can be morally responsible for them. Internalism is the thesis that the conditions of moral responsibility can be specified independently of facts about how the person acquired her responsibility-grounding psychological elements. In this paper we defend a position that navigates between externalism (...) and internalism: moral responsibility does not require that one have a past but it does require that one not have certain kinds of past. (shrink)
I examine John Martin Fischer's attempt to block an argument for the conclusion that without alternative possibilities, morally deontic judgments (judgments of moral right, wrong, and obligation) cannot be true. I then criticize a recent attempt to sustain the principle that an agent is morally blameworthy for performing an action only if this action is morally wrong. I conclude with discussing Fisher's view that even if causal determinism undermines morally deontic judgments, it still leaves room for other significant moral assessments (...) including assessments of moral blameworthiness. (shrink)
Famed so-called 'Frankfurt-type examples' have been invoked to cast doubt on the principle that a person is morally responsible for what she has done only if she could have done otherwise. Many who disagree that the examples are successful in this respect argue that these examples succumb to a deadly dilemma. I uncover and assess libertarian assumptions upon which the 'dilemma objection' is based. On exposing these assumptions, it becomes clear that various sorts of libertarian are no longer entitled to (...) one or the other horns of the dilemma. (shrink)
Derk Pereboom has advanced a four-case manipulation argument that, he claims, undermines both libertarian accounts of free action not committed to agent-causation and compatibilist accounts of such action. The first two cases are meant to be ones in which the key agent is not responsible for his actions owing to his being manipulated. We first consider a “hard-line” response to this argument that denies that the agent is not morally responsible in these cases. We argue that this response invites a (...) dialectically uncharitable reading of the argument. We then propose an alternative interpretation; it affirms that, at least prima facie, the manipulated agent in the first two cases is not responsible. Finally, we question Pereboom’s rationale for why the manipulation in these cases subverts responsibility. (shrink)
My primary objective is to motivate the concern that leading libertarian views of free action seem unable to account for an agent’s behavior in a way that reveals an explanatorily apt connection between the agent’s prior reasons and the intentional behavior to be explained. I argue that it is this lack of a suitable reasons explanation of purportedly free decisions that underpins the objection that agents who act with the pertinent sort of libertarian freedom cannot be morally responsible for what (...) they do because their intentional behavior is a matter of luck. The accounts scrutinized include a Kane-type event-causal view, Clarke’s account that appeals to both agent causation and event causation in the production of free action, and O’Connor’s pure agent-causal account. I conclude by discussing an advantage these libertarian accounts enjoy over compatibilist contenders: they possess a feature necessary to accommodate the truth of judgments of moral obligation. (shrink)
Key elements of Randolph Clarke's libertarian account of freedom that requires both agent-causation and non-deterministic event-causation in the production of free action is assessed with an eye toward determining whether agent-causal accounts can accommodate the truth of judgments of moral obligation.
It has been argued that all compatibilist accounts of free action and moral responsibility succumb to the manipulation problem: evil neurologists or their like may manipulate an agent, in the absence of the agent's awareness of being so manipulated, so that when the agent performs an action, requirements of the compatibilist contender at issue are satisfied. But intuitively, the agent is not responsible for the action. We propose that the manipulation problem be construed as a problem of deviance. In troubling (...) cases of manipulation, psychological elements such as desires and beliefs, among other things, are acquired via causal routes that are deviant relative to causal routes deemed normal or baseline. We develop and defend rudiments of a baseline that is acceptable independently of whether one has compatibilist or incompatibilist leanings. (shrink)
I first question whether genuinealternatives are necessary for moralresponsibility by assessing the assumption thataccessibility to such alternatives is vital tohaving the kind of control required forresponsibility. I next suggest that theavailability of genuine alternatives courtsproblems of responsibility-subverting luck foran important class of libertarian theories. Isummarize one such problem and respond torecent replies it has elicited. I then proposethat if this ``luck objection'''' against theidentified class of libertarian theories ispersuasive, a similar objection appears toafflict compatibilist theories as well.Finally, I show that (...) reflections on luck maywell take some bite out of variousFrankfurt-type examples. These are examplesdesigned to establish that an agent can bemorally responsible for an action despiteacting with libertarian free will in theabsence of genuine or pertinent alternatives. (shrink)