This introductory chapter provides an overview of the recent debate about responsibility and distributive justice. It traces the recent philosophical focus on distributive justice to John Rawls and examines two arguments in his work which might be taken to contain the seeds of the focus on responsibility in later theories of distributive justice. It examines Ronald Dworkin's ‘equality of resources’, the ‘luck egalitarianism’ of Richard Arneson and G. A. Cohen, as well as the criticisms of their work put (...) forward by Elizabeth Anderson, Marc Fleurbaey, Susan Hurley, and Jonathan Wolff. Key concepts such as responsibility (individual and collective), luck (thin and thick; brute and option), control, desert, and equality of opportunity are delineated, and the implementation of responsibility-sensitive accounts of justice is considered. The chapters of this book are positioned in relation to the wider literature on responsibility and distributive justice, and a brief outline of the chapters is provided. (shrink)
There are legitimate worries about gaps between scientific evidence of brain states and function (for example, as evidenced by fMRI data) and legal criteria for determining criminal culpability. In this paper I argue that behavioral evidence of capacity, motive and intent appears easier for judges and juries to use for purposes of determining criminal liability because such evidence triggers the application of commonsense psychological (CSP) concepts that guide and structure criminal responsibility. In contrast, scientific evidence of neurological processes and (...) function – such as evidence that the defendant has a large brain tumor – will not generally lead a judge or jury to directly infer anything that is relevant to the legal determination of criminal culpability . (Vincent 2008) In these cases, an expert witness will be required to indicate to the fact-finder what this evidence means with regard to mental capacity; and then another inference will have to be made from this possible lack of capacity to the legal criteria for guilt, cast in CSP terms.<br><br>To reliably link evidence of brain function and structure and assessment of criminal responsibility, we need to re-conceptualize the mental capacities necessary for responsibility, particularly those that are recognized as missing or compromised by the doctrines of “legal capacity” (Hart 1968) and “diminished capacity.” I argue that formulating these capacities as executive functions within the brain can provide this link. I further claim that it would be extremely useful to consider evidence of executive function as related to the diminished capacity doctrine at sentencing. This is because it is primarily at this stage in criminal proceedings where the use of the diminished capacity doctrine is most prevalent, as evidenced by the recent Supreme Court cases of Atkins v. Virginia (536 U.S. 304 (2002)) and Roper v. Simmons (543 U.S. 551 (2005)).<br>. (shrink)
This paper introduces a new family of cases where agents are jointly morally responsible for outcomes over which they have no individual control, a family that resists standard ways of understanding outcome responsibility. First, the agents in these cases do not individually facilitate the outcomes and would not seem individually responsible for them if the other agents were replaced by non-agential causes. This undermines attempts to understand joint responsibility as overlapping individual responsibility; the responsibility in question (...) is essentially joint. Second, the agents involved in these cases are not aware of each other's existence and do not form a social group. This undermines attempts to understand joint responsibility in terms of actual or possible joint action or joint intentions, or in terms of other social ties. Instead, it is argued that intuitions about joint responsibility are best understood given the Explanation Hypothesis, according to which a group of agents are seen as jointly responsible for outcomes that are suitably explained by their motivational structures: something bad happened because they didn’t care enough; something good happened because their dedication was extraordinary. One important consequence of the proposed account is that responsibility for outcomes of collective action is a deeply normative matter. (shrink)
Much has been written recently about free will and moral responsibility. In this paper I will focus on the relationship between free will, on the one hand, and various notions that fall under the rubric of “morality,” broadly construed, on the other: deliberation and practical reasoning, moral responsibility, and ethical notions such as “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” I shall begin by laying out a natural understanding of freedom of the will. Next I develop some challenges to (...) the common-sense view that we have this sort of freedom. I will go on to explore the implications of this challenge for deliberation, moral responsibility, and the central ethical notions. (shrink)
Is choice necessary for moral responsibility? And does choice imply alternative possibilities of some significant sort? This paper will relate these questions to the argument initiated by Harry Frankfurt that alternative possibilities are not required for moral responsibility, and to John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza's extension of that argument in terms of guidance control in a causally determined world. I argue that attending to Frankfurt's core conceptual distinction between the circumstances that make an action unavoidable and those (...) that bring it about that the action is performed – a distinction emphasised in his recent restatement – provides a new route into an analysis of Frankfurt's argument by showing how it depends on a person's ‘decision to act’ involving the exercise of choice. The implicit reliance of Frankfurt's argument on this notion of choice, however, undermines his claim that the example of the counterfactual intervener strengthens the compatibilist case by providing a counter-example to the principle of alternative possibilities. I also argue that Frankfurt's reliance on the exercise of choice for moral responsibility is also evident in the Fischer/Ravizza argument, and that a close analysis of both arguments shows that such exercise of choice is not available if causal determinism is true. (shrink)
Recent work in experimental philosophy shows that folk intuitions about moral responsibility are sensitive to a surprising variety of factors. Whether people take agents to be responsible for their actions in deterministic scenarios depends on whether the deterministic laws are couched in neurological or psychological terms (Nahmias et. al. 2007), on whether actions are described abstractly or concretely, and on how serious moral transgression they seem to represent (Nichols & Knobe 2007). Finally, people are more inclined to hold an (...) agent responsible for bringing about bad than for bringing about good side effects that the agent is indifferent about (Knobe 2003). Elsewhere, we have presented an analysis of the everyday concept of moral responsibility that provides a unified explanation of paradigmatic cases of moral responsibility, and accounts for the force of both typical excuses and the most influential skeptical arguments against moral responsibility or for incompatibilism. In this article, we suggest that it also explains the divergent and apparently incoherent set of intuitions revealed by these new studies. If our hypothesis is correct, the surprising variety of judgments stems from a unified concept of moral responsibility. -Knobe, J. (2003) Intentional Action and Side Effects in Ordinary Language. Analysis 63, pp.190–93. -Nahmias, E.; Coates, J.; Kvaran. T. (2007) Free will, moral responsibility, and mechanism: experiments on folk intuitions. Midwest studies in Philosophy XXXI -Nichols, S.; Knobe, J. (2007) Moral responsibility and determinism: the cognitive science of folk intuitions, Noûs 41:4, 663-685. (shrink)
The paper has dual aim: to analyse the structure of negligence, and to use it to offer an explanation of responsibility (for actions, omissions, consequences) in terms of the relations which must exist between the action (omission, etc.) and the agents powers of rational agency if the agent is responsible for the action. The discussion involves reflections on the relations between the law and the morality of negligence, the difference between negligence and strict liability, the role of excuses and (...) the grounds of duties to pay damages. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors (...) go on to offer a sustained defense of the thesis that moral responsibility is compatible with causal determinism. (shrink)
Thomas Reid developed an important theory of freedom and moral responsibility resting on the concept of agent-causation, by which he meant the power of a rational agent to cause or not cause a volition resulting in an action. He held that this power is limited in that occasions occur when one's emotions or other forces may preclude its exercise. John Martin Fischer has raised an objection – the not enough ‘Oomph’ objection – against any incompatibilist account of freedom and (...) moral responsibility. In this essay I argue that Fischer's not enough ‘Oomph’ objection fails to provide any reasons for rejecting Reid's incompatibilist, agent-causation account of freedom and moral responsibility. (shrink)
Can we reconcile the idea that we are free and responsible agents with the idea that what we do is determined according to natural laws? For centuries, philosophers have tried in different ways to show that we can. Hilary Bok takes a fresh approach here, as she seeks to show that the two ideas are compatible by drawing on the distinction between practical and theoretical reasoning.Bok argues that when we engage in practical reasoning--the kind that involves asking "what should I (...) do?" and sifting through alternatives to find the most justifiable course of action--we have reason to hold ourselves responsible for what we do. But when we engage in theoretical reasoning--searching for causal explanations of events--we have no reason to apply concepts like freedom and responsibility. Bok contends that libertarians' arguments against "compatibilist" justifications of moral responsibility fail because they describe human actions only from the standpoint of theoretical reasoning. To establish this claim, she examines which conceptions of freedom of the will and moral responsibility are relevant to practical reasoning and shows that these conceptions are not vulnerable to many objections that libertarians have directed against compatibilists. Bok concludes that the truth or falsity of the claim that we are free and responsible agents in the sense those conceptions spell out is ultimately independent of deterministic accounts of the causes of human actions.Clearly written and powerfully argued, Freedom and Responsibility is a major addition to current debate about some of philosophy's oldest and deepest questions. (shrink)
Adina Roskies has argued that worries that recent developments in the neurosciences challenge our ideas of free will and responsibility are misguided. Her argument focuses on the idea that we are able to act differently than we do. However, according to a dominant view in contemporary philosophy, the ability to do otherwise is irrelevant to our judgments of responsibility and free will. It rather is our ability to act for reasons that is crucial. We argue that this view (...) is most significantly challenged by the recent discoveries. Those discoveries show that it is not as obvious and uncontroversial that we act for reasons as it seems. Hence, we have to rethink our concept of reasons-responsiveness. (shrink)
Philosophers working in the nascent field of ‘experimental philosophy’ have begun using methods borrowed from psychology to collect data about folk intuitions concerning debates ranging from action theory to ethics to epistemology. In this paper we present the results of our attempts to apply this approach to the free will debate, in which philosophers on opposing sides claim that their view best accounts for and accords with folk intuitions. After discussing the motivation for such research, we describe our methodology of (...) surveying people’s prephilosophical judgments about the freedom and responsibility of agents in deterministic scenarios. In two studies, we found that a majority of participants judged that such agents act of their own free will and are morally responsible for their actions. We then discuss the philosophical implications of our results as well as various difficulties inherent in such research. (shrink)
Revisionism in the theory of moral responsibility is the idea that some aspect of responsibility practices, attitudes, or concept is in need of revision. While the increased frequency of revisionist language in the literature on free will and moral responsibility is striking, what discussion there has been of revisionism about responsibility and free will tends to be critical. In this paper, I argue that at least one species of revisionism, moderate revisionism, is considerably more sophisticated and (...) defensible than critics have realized. I go on to argue for the advantages of moderate revisionist theories over standard compatibilist and incompatibilist theories. (shrink)
Various authors debate the question of whether neuroscience is relevant to criminal responsibility. However, a plethora of different techniques and technologies, each with their own abilities and drawbacks, lurks beneath the label “neuroscience”; and in criminal law responsibility is not a single, unitary and generic concept, but it is rather a syndrome of at least six different concepts. Consequently, there are at least six different responsibility questions that the criminal law asks – at least one for each (...)responsibility concept – and, I will suggest, a multitude of ways in which the techniques and technologies that comprise neuroscience might help us to address those diverse questions. In a way, on my account neuroscience is relevant to criminal responsibility in many ways, but I hesitate to state my position like this because doing so obscures two points which I would rather highlight: one, neither neuroscience nor criminal responsibility are as unified as that; and two, the criminal law asks many different responsibility questions and not just one generic question. (shrink)
In recent years, reﬂection on the relationship between individual moral responsibility and determinism has undergone a remarkable renaissance. Incompatibilists, those who believe moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism, have offered powerful new arguments in support of their views. Compatibilists, those who think moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, have responded with ingenious counterexamples and alternative accounts of responsibility. Despite the admirable elevation of complexity and subtlety within both camps, the trajectory of the literature is somewhat discouraging. (...) Every dialectical stalemate between incompatibilists and compatibilists seems to be superseded by a similar though often more subtle stalemate.1 The stalemates have two sources. On the one hand, incompatibilists again and again ﬁnd powerful intuitive support from our folk concept. On the other hand, compatibilists seem right to insist that even if determinism were true, this would not mitigate our need for a concept of responsibility. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: This paper serves two purposes: (i) it can be used by students as an introduction to chapters 1-5 of book iii of the NE; (ii) it suggests an answer to the unresolved question what overall objective this section of the NE has. The paper focuses primarily on Aristotle’s theory of what makes us responsible for our actions and character. After some preliminary observations about praise, blame and responsibility (Section 2), it sets out in detail how all the key (...) notions of NE iii 1-5 are interrelated (Sections 3-9). The setting-out of these interconnections makes it then possible to provide a comprehensive interpretation of the purpose of the passage. Its primary purpose is to explain how agents are responsible for their actions not just insofar as they are actions of this kind or that, but also insofar as they are noble or base: agents are responsible for their actions qua noble or base, because, typically via choice, their character dispositions are a causal factor of those actions (Section 10). The paper illustrates the different ways in which agents can be causes of their actions by means of Aristotle’s four basic types of agents (Section 11). A secondary purpose of NE iii 1-5 is to explain how agents can be held responsible for consequences of their actions (Section 12), in particular for their character dispositions insofar as these are noble or base, i.e. virtues or vices (Section 13). These two goals are not the only ones Aristotle pursues in the passage. But they are the ones Aristotle himself indicates in its first sentence and summarizes in its last paragraph; and the ones that give the passage a systematic unity. The paper also briefly consider the issues of freedom-to-do-otherwise, free choice and free-will in the contexts in which they occur (i.e. in the final paragraphs of Sections 6, 7, 12, 13). (shrink)
Some defenders of the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) have responded to the challenge of Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) to PAP by arguing that there remains a flicker of freedom -- that is, an alternative possibility for action -- left to the agent in FSCs. I argue that the flicker of freedom strategy is unsuccessful. The strategy requires the supposition that doing an act-on-one''s-own is itself an action of sorts. I argue that either this supposition is confused and leads to counter-intuitive (...) results; or, if the supposition is acceptable, then it is possible to use it to construct a FSC in which there is no flicker of freedom at all. Either way, the flicker of freedom strategy is ineffective against FSCs. Since the flicker of freedom strategy is arguably the best defense of PAP, I conclude that FSCs are successful in showing that PAP is false. An agent can act with moral responsibility without having alternative possibilities available to her. (shrink)
Skeptical worries about moral responsibility seem to be widely appreciated and deeply felt. To address these worries—if nothing else to show that they are mistaken—theories of moral responsibility need to relate to whatever concept of responsibility underlies the worries. Unfortunately, the nature of that concept has proved hard to pin down. Not only do philosophers have conflicting intuitions; numerous recent empirical studies have suggested that both prosaic responsibility judgments and incompatibilist intuitions among the folk are influenced (...) by a number of surprising factors, sometimes prompting apparently contradictory judgments. In this paper, we show how an independently motivated hypothesis about responsibility judgments provides a unified explanation of the more important results from these studies. According to this ‘Explanation Hypothesis’, to take an agent to be morally responsible for an event is to take a relevant motivational structure of the agent to be part of a significant explanation of the event. We argue that because of how explanatory interests and perspectives affect what we take as significant explanations, this analysis accounts for the puzzling variety of empirical results. If this is correct, the Explanation Hypothesis also provides a new way of understanding debates about moral responsibility. (shrink)
Empirical evidence challenges many of the assumptions that underlie traditional philosophical and commonsense conceptions of human agency. It has been suggested that this evidence threatens also to undermine free will and moral responsibility. In this paper, I will focus on the purported threat to moral responsibility. The evidence challenges assumptions concerning the ability to exercise conscious control and to act for reasons. This raises an apparent challenge to moral responsibility as these abilities appear to be necessary for (...) morally responsible agency. I will argue that this challenge collapses once the underlying conditions on moral responsibility are specified in sufficient detail. I will argue, in other words, that the empirical evidence does not support a challenge to the assumption that we are, in general, morally responsible agents. In the final section, I will suggest that empirical research on human agency is nevertheless relevant to various questions about moral responsibility. (shrink)
P.F. Strawson’s work on moral responsibility is well-known. However, an important implication of the landmark “Freedom and Resentment” has gone unnoticed. Specifically, a natural development of Strawson’s position is that we should understand being morally responsible as having externalistically construed pragmatic criteria, not individualistically construed psychological ones. This runs counter to the contemporary ways of studying moral responsibility. I show the deficiencies of such contemporary work in relation to Strawson by critically examining the positions of John Martin Fischer (...) and Mark Ravizza, R. Jay Wallace, and Philip Pettit for problems due to individualistic assumptions. (shrink)
It is far too early to say what global impact the neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric sciences will have on our intuitions about moral responsibility. And it is far too early to say whether the notion of moral responsibility will survive this impact (and if so, in what form). But it is certainly worth starting to think about the local impact that these sciences can or should have on some of our distinctions and criteria. It might be possible to use (...) some of the tools offered by these sciences in order to refine or revise some of the categories currently used, without – for the time being at least – worrying too much about the fate of the notion of moral responsibility. This is an area where a piecemeal approach might be more productive: only after an evaluation of many distinct cases and situations it will be possible to say something general about the current notion of moral responsibility. In this article, we will focus on a single clinical case: a young man who has been convicted for assault on a neighbour and whose sentence was affected by a pre-existing diagnosis of mental illness. We will use this case, and an analysis of the similarities and differences between this case and other possible cases, in order to raise some (local but important) issues about the implications that discoveries in neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry can have for the way moral responsibility is attributed to agents and, more specifically, to agents with diagnoses of mental illnesses. (shrink)
Do laypeople think that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism? Recently, philosophers and psychologists trying to answer this question have found contradictory results: while some experiments reveal people to have compatibilist intuitions, others suggest that people could in fact be incompatibilist. To account for this contradictory answers, Nichols and Knobe (2007) have advanced a ‘performance error model’ according to which people are genuine incompatibilist that are sometimes biased to give compatibilist answers by emotional reactions. To test for this hypothesis, (...) we investigated intuitions about determinism and moral responsibility in patients suffering from behavioural frontotemporal dementia. Patients suffering from bvFTD have impoverished emotional reaction. Thus, the ‘performance error model’ should predict that bvFTD patients will give less compatibilist answers. However, we found that bvFTD patients give answers quite similar to subjects in control group and were mostly compatibilist. Thus, we conclude that the ‘performance error model’ should be abandoned in favour of other available model that best fit our data. (shrink)
This is a selection of essays on moral responsibility that represent the major components of John Martin Fischer's overall approach to freedom of the will and moral responsibility. The collection exhibits the overall structure of Fischer's view and shows how the various elements fit together to form a comprehensive framework for analyzing free will and moral responsibility. The topics include deliberation and practical reasoning, freedom of the will, freedom of action, various notions of control, and moral accountability. (...) The essays seek to provide a foundation for our practices of holding each other (and ourselves) morally and legally accountable for our behavior. A crucial move is the distinction between two kinds of control. According to Fischer, "regulative control" involves freedom to choose and do otherwise ("alternative possibilities"), whereas "guidance control" does not. Fischer contends that guidance control is all the freedom we need to be morally responsible agents. Further, he contends that such control is fully compatible with causal determinism. Additionally, Fischer argues that we do not need genuine access to alternative possibilities in order for there to be a legitimate point to practical reasoning. Fischer's overall framework contains an argument for the contention that guidance control, and not regulative control, is associated with moral responsibility, a sketch of a comprehensive theory of moral responsibility (that ties together responsibility for actions, omissions, consequences, and character), and an account of the value of moral responsibility. On this account, the value of exhibiting freedom (of the relevant sort) and thus being morally responsible for one's behavior is a species of the value of artistic self-expression. (shrink)
Many prominent accounts of free will and moral responsibility make use of the idea that agents can be responsive to reasons. Call such theories Reasons accounts. In what follows, I consider the tenability of Reasons accounts in light of situationist social psychology and, to a lesser extent, the automaticity literature. In the ﬁrst half of this chapter, I argue that Reasons accounts are genuinely threatened by contemporary psychology. In the second half of the paper I consider whether such threats (...) can be met, and at what cost. Ultimately, I argue that Reasons accounts can abandon some familiar assumptions, and that doing so permits us to build a more empirically plausible picture of our agency. (shrink)
A companion volume to Free Will: A Philosophical Study , this new anthology collects influential essays on free will, including both well-known contemporary classics and exciting recent work. Agency and Responsibility: Essays on the Metaphysics of Freedom is divided into three parts. The essays in the first section address metaphysical issues concerning free will and causal determinism. The second section groups papers presenting a positive account of the nature of free action, including competing compatibilist and incompatibilist analyses. The third (...) section concerns free will and moral responsibility, including theories of moral responsibility and the challenge to an alternative possibilities condition posed by Frankurt-type scenarios. Distinguished by its balance and consistently high quality, the volume presents papers selected for their significance, innovation, and clarity of expression. Contributors include Harry Frankfurt, Peter van Inwagen, David Lewis, Elizabeth Anscombe, John Martin Fischer, Michael Bratman, Roderick Chisholm, Robert Kane, Peter Strawson, and Susan Wolf. The anthology serves as an up-to-date resource for scholars as well as a useful text for courses in ethics, philosophy of religion, or metaphysics. In addition, paired with Free Will: A Philosophical Study, it would form an excellent upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level course in free will, responsibility, motivation, or action theory. (shrink)
From its inception in Kant's efforts to articulate a "religion within the limits of reason alone," the Continental tradition has maintained a strict division of labor between theological and philosophical reflection on religion. In what follows, I examine this continental legacy in the context of Jacques Derrida's recent work on the concept of responsibility. First I discuss three guiding themes (the limits of speculative analysis, the idea of nondogmatic religion, and the importance of the other) that characterize the continental (...) tradition's general orientation toward philosophy of religion, as well as Derrida's approach to the concept of responsibility. I turn next to elucidating Derrida's account of responsibility as developed in "Force of Law: The Mystical Foundations of Authority" and The Gift of Death. I conclude with a discussion of the uses and limits of this account for religious (and theological) reflection, as well as for the task of articulating a contemporary continental philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Moral responsibility invariantism is the view that there is a single set of conditions for being morally responsible for an action (or omission or consequence of an act or omission) that applies in all cases. I defend this view against some recent arguments by Joshua Knobe and John Doris.
Traditionally, incompatibilism has rested on two theses. First, the familiar Principle of Alternative Possibilities says that we cannot be morally responsible for what we do unless we could have done otherwise. Accepting this principle, incompatibilists have then argued that there is no room for such alternative possibilities in a deterministic world. Recently, however, a number of philosophers have argued that incompatibilism about moral responsibility can be defended independently of these traditional theses (Ginet 2005: 604-8; McKenna 2001; Stump 1999: 322-4, (...) 2000 and 2002; van Inwagen 1983: 182-8; and Zagzebski 2000). Incompatibilists of this stripe are generally motivated by the concern that, if determinism .. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: 1. This paper argues that Epicurus had a notion of moral responsibility based on the agent’s causal responsibility, as opposed to the agent’s ability to act or choose otherwise; that Epicurus considered it a necessary condition for praising or blaming an agent for an action, that it was the agent and not something else that brought the action about. Thus, the central question of moral responsibility was whether the agent was the, or a, cause of the (...) action, or whether the agent was forced to act by something else. Actions could be attributed to agents because it is in their actions that the agents, qua moral beings, manifest themselves. 2. As a result, the question of moral development becomes all important. The paper collects and discusses the evidence for Epicurus views on moral development, i.e. (i) on how humans become moral beings and (ii) on how humans can become morally better. It becomes clear that Epicurus envisaged a complex web of hereditary and environmental factors to shape the moral aspect of a human being. 3. In line with Epicurus’ theory of moral responsibility and moral development, Epicurus ethics does not have the function of developing or justifying a moral system that allows for the effective allocation of praise and blame. Rather, for him the function of ethics – and in fact of the whole of philosophy – is to give everyone a chance to morally improve. (shrink)
This paper responds to three critical essays on my book, The Significance of Free Will(Oxford, 1996) by Randolph Clarke, Istiyaque Haji and Alfred Mele (which essays appear in this issue and an earlier issue of this journal). This response first explains crucial features of the theory of free will of the book, including the notion of ultimate responsibility.The paper then answers objections of Haji and Mele that the occurrence of undetermined choices would be matters of luck or chance, and (...) so could not be responsible actions. It then responds to concerns of Clarke that indeterminism provides no greater degree of control for defenders of incompatibilist free will and to concerns Clarke has about the notions of "effort" and "willing" in the book. Finally, the paper addresses objections of Haji concerning Frankfurt type-examples and the relation of moral responsibility to the power to act otherwise, and it addresses a concern of Mele's about why we should want a free will that is incompatible with determinism. (shrink)
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he (...) argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
Under what conditions are people responsible for their choices and the outcomes of those choices? How could such conditions be fostered by liberal societies? Should what people are due as a matter of justice depend on what they are responsible for? For example, how far should healthcare provision depend on patients' past choices? What values would be realized and which hampered by making justice sensitive to responsibility? Would it give people what they deserve? Would it advance or hinder equality? (...) The explosion of philosophical interest in such questions has been fuelled by increased focus on individual responsibility in political debates. Political philosophers, especially egalitarians, have responded to such developments by attempting to map out the proper place for responsibility in theories of justice. This book both reflects on these recent developments in normative political theory and moves the debate forwards. (shrink)
Luck egalitarians think that considerations of responsibility can excuse departures from strict equality. However critics argue that allowing responsibility to play this role has objectionably harsh consequences. Luck egalitarians usually respond either by explaining why that harshness is not excessive, or by identifying allegedly legitimate exclusions from the default responsibility-tracking rule to tone down that harshness. And in response, critics respectively deny that this harshness is not excessive, or they argue that those exclusions would be ineffective or (...) lacking in justification. Rather than taking sides, after criticizing both positions I also argue that this way of carrying on the debate – i.e. as a debate about whether the harsh demands of responsibility outweigh other considerations, and about whether exclusions to responsibility-tracking would be effective and/or justified – is deeply problematic. On my account, the demands of responsibility do not – in fact, they can not – conflict with the demands of other normative considerations, because responsibility only provides a formal structure within which those other considerations determine how people may be treated, but it does not generate its own practical demands. (shrink)
In this paper, we do three things. First, we put forth a novel hypothesis about judgments of moral responsibility according to which such judgments are a species of explanatory judgments. Second, we argue that this hypothesis explains both some general features of everyday thinking about responsibility and the appeal of skeptical arguments against moral responsibility. Finally, we argue that, if correct, the hypothesis provides a defense against these skeptical arguments.
Frankfurt-type examples seem to show that agents can be morally responsible for their actions and omissions even if they could not have done otherwise. Fischer and Ravizza's influential account of moral responsibility is largely based on such examples. I examine a problem with their account of responsibility in cases where we fail to act. The solution to this problem has a surprising and far reaching implication concerning the construction of successful Frankfurt-type examples. I argue that the role of (...) the counterfactual intervener in such examples can only be filled by a rational agent. (shrink)
This thesis argues that a particular version of equal opportunity for welfare is the best way of meeting the joint demands of three liberal egalitarian ideals: distributional equality, responsibility, and respect for individuals’ differing reasonable judgements of their own good. It also examines which social choice rules best represent these demands. Finally, it defends the view that achieving equal opportunity for welfare should not only be a goal of formal public institutions, but that just citizens should also sometimes be (...) guided by it in their everyday life. The version of equal opportunity for welfare it defends differs from some well-known contemporary versions in the following ways. First, it rejects a definition of welfare as the degree of satisfaction of a person’s preferences, because, it argues, this conception of welfare cannot adequately deal with preference change. Instead, it suggests that we should adopt a conception of welfare based on a list of goods and conditions that are recognised as valuable from the perspective of a variety of different conceptions of the good. Second, it argues that individuals’ prima facie claim to an equally valuable share of the world’s resources—a claim which is based on their equal moral worth—is limited to situations in which giving one person a more valuable share means that someone else ends up with a less valuable share. It also argues that in situations where we can improve at least one person’s situation without worsening anyone else’s, we generally do not fail to respect each person’s equal moral worth by doing so, even if this leads to inequalities. Third, it defends a distinct view of responsibility, which justifies social arrangements that give people certain options with reference to the value that individuals can achieve (but don’t necessarily achieve) through their choices from these options. (shrink)
The author argued elsewhere that a necessary condition that John Fischer and Mark Ravizza offer for moral responsibility is too strong and that the sufficient conditions they offer are too weak. This article is a critical examination of their reply. Topics discussed include blameworthiness, irresistible desires, moral responsibility, reactive attitudes, and reasons responsiveness.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a condition in which a person appears to possess more than one personality, and sometimes very many. Some recent criminal cases involving defendants with DID have resulted in "not guilty" verdicts, though the defense is not always successful in this regard. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Stephen Behnke have argued that we should excuse DID sufferers from responsibility, only if at the time of the act the person was insane (typically (...) delusional); otherwise the presumption should be that persons with DID are indeed responsible for their actions. We find their interpretation of DID and of the way in which the requirements for criminal insanity relate to this condition worrying and likely to result in injustice to DID sufferers. Our thesis is that persons with DID cannot be responsible for their actions if the usual features of the condition are present. A person with DID is a single person in the grip of a very serious mental disorder. By focusing on the features of DID which have, as we argue, the effect of deluding the patient, we try to show that such a person is unable to fulfill the ordinary conditions of responsible agency (namely, autonomy and self-control). (shrink)
Thomas Pogge claims “that, by shaping and enforcing the social conditions that foreseeably and avoidably cause the monumental suffering of global poverty, we are harming the global poor – or, to put it more escriptively, we are active participants in the largest, though not the gravest, crime against humanity ever committed.” In other words, he claims that by upholding certain international arrangements we are violating our strong negative duties not to harm, and not just some (perhaps much weaker) positive duties (...) to help. I shall argue that even if Pogge were correct in claiming that certain rich states or at least the rich states collectively violate certain negative duties towards the poor and harm the poor, he is far too hasty in concluding that “we,” the citizens of those states, are thus harming the global poor or violating our negative duties towards them. In fact, his conclusion can be shown to be wrong not least of all in the light of some of his own assumptions about collective responsibility, the enforceability of human rights, and terrorism. In addition, I will also argue that his view that we share responsibility for the acts of our political “representatives,” who allegedly act “on our behalf,” is unwarranted. (shrink)
I argue against two of the most influential contemporary theories of moral responsibility: those of Harry Frankfurt and John Martin Fischer. Both propose conditions which are supposed to be sufficient for direct moral responsibility for actions. (By the term direct moral responsibility, I mean moral responsibility which is not traced from an earlier action.) Frankfurt proposes a condition of 'identification'; Fischer, writing with Mark Ravizza, proposes conditions for 'guidance control'. I argue, using counterexamples, that neither is (...) sufficient for direct moral responsibility. -/- My counterexample cases are based on recent research in psychology which reveals many surprising causes of our actions. Some of this research comes from the field of situationist social psychology; some from experiments which reveal the influence of automatic processes in our actions. Broadly, I call such causes 'subverting' when the agent would not identify with her action, if she knew all the causes of the action. When an action has subverting causes, the agent is not directly morally responsible for it, even though she may meet the conditions specified by Frankfurt and Fischer. -/- I also criticise the theories of Eddy Nahmias and John Doris, who have both engaged specifically with the threats posed to moral responsibility by situationist research. Against Doris and Nahmias, I argue that their conditions are neither necessary nor sufficient for direct moral responsibility. -/- My final objective is to argue that there are many everyday actions for which we mistakenly hold agents morally responsible. I review evidence that there are many everyday actions which have subverting causes. Many of those are actions for which we currently hold agents morally responsible. But I argue that, in many of those same actions, the agents are not in fact morally responsible – they bear neither direct nor traced moral responsibility. (shrink)
This thesis considers two allegations which conservatives often level at no-fault systems — namely, that responsibility is abnegated under no-fault systems, and that no-fault systems under- and over-compensate. I argue that although each of these allegations can be satisfactorily met – the responsibility allegation rests on the mistaken assumption that to properly take responsibility for our actions we must accept liability for those losses for which we are causally responsible; and the compensation allegation rests on the mistaken (...) assumption that tort law’s compensatory decisions provide a legitimate norm against which no-fault’s decisions can be compared and criticized – doing so leads in a direction which is at odds with accident law reform advocates’ typical recommendations. On my account, accident law should not just be reformed in line with no-fault’s principles, but rather it should be completely abandoned since the principles that protect no- fault systems from the conservatives’ two allegations are incompatible with retaining the category of accident law, they entail that no-fault systems are a form of social welfare and not accident law systems, and that under these systems serious deprivation – and to a lesser extent causal responsibility – should be conditions of eligibility to claim benefits. (shrink)
Real-self accounts of moral responsibility distinguish between various types of motivational elements. They claim that an agent is responsible for acts suitably related to elements that constitute the agent's real self. While such accounts have certain advantages from a compatibilist perspective, they are problematic in various ways. First, in it, authority and authenticity conceptions of the real self are often inadequately distinguished. Both of these conceptions inform discourse on identification, but only the former is relevant to moral responsibility. (...) Second, authority and authenticity real-self theories are unable to accommodate cases in which the agent neither identifies nor disidentifies with his action and yet seems morally responsible for what he does. Third, authority and authenticity real-self theories are vulnerable to counterexamples in which the provenance of the agent's real self undermines responsibility. (shrink)
Frankfurt-style examples (FSEs) cast doubt on the initially plausible claim that an ability to do otherwise is necessary for moral responsibility. Following the lead of Peter van Inwagen and others, I argue that if we are careful in distinguishing events by causal origins, then we see that FSEs fail to show that one may be morally responsible for x, yet have no alternatives to x. I provide reasons for a fine-grained causal origins approach to events apart from the context (...) of moral responsibility, and respond to the objection that moral responsibility depends on abstract entities other than events. In response to John Martin Fischer and others, I argue that the alternatives available in recent FSEs are robust enough for moral responsibility. If one thinks that the ability to do otherwise is a necessary condition for moral responsibility, the FSEs give no reason to relinquish this belief. (shrink)
In the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the ‘desert-entailing sense’. Despite this agreement, little has been said about the notion of desert that is supposedly entailed. In this paper I propose an understanding of desert sufficient to help explain why the blameworthy and praiseworthy deserve blame and praise, respectively. I do so by drawing upon what might seem an unusual resource. I appeal to so-called Fitting-Attitude accounts of value to (...) help inform a conception of desert or merit, one that can be usefully applied to discussions of moral responsibility. I argue that the view, which I call, Desert as Fittingness (DAF), merits additional attention. I do so by making two claims: First, that it does better than extant Fitting Attitude accounts of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness; second, that it has an initial plausibility with respect to informing a general account of desert. While these reasons are insufficient to show the view is true, they do make the case for taking the view seriously. (shrink)
Egalitarians must address two questions: i. What should there be an equality of, which concerns the currency of the ‘equalisandum’; and ii. How should this thing be allocated to achieve the so-called equal distribution? A plausible initial composite answer to these two questions is that resources should be allocated in accordance with choice, because this way the resulting distribution of the said equalisandum will ‘track responsibility’ — responsibility will be tracked in the sense that only we will be (...) responsible for the resources that are available to us, since our allocation of resources will be a consequence of our own choices. But the effects of actual choices should not be preserved until the prior effects of luck in constitution and circumstance are first eliminated. For instance, people can choose badly because their choice-making capacity was compromised due to a lack of intelligence (i.e. due to constitutional bad luck), or because only bad options were open to them (i.e. due to circumstantial bad luck), and under such conditions we are not responsible for our choices. So perhaps a better composite answer to our two questions (from the perspective of tracking responsibility) might be that resources should be allocated so as to reflect people’s choices, but only once those choices have been corrected for the distorting effects of constitutional and circumstantial luck, and on this account choice preservation and luck elimination are two complementary aims of the egalitarian ideal. Nevertheless, it is one thing to say that luck’s effects should be eliminated, but quite another to figure out just how much resource redistribution would be required to achieve this outcome, and so it was precisely for this purpose that in 1981 Ronald Dworkin developed the ingenuous hypothetical insurance market argumentative device (HIMAD), which he then used in conjunction with the talent slavery (TS) argument, to arrive at an estimate of the amount of redistribution that would be required to reduce the extent of luck’s effects. However recently Daniel Markovits has cast doubt over Dworkin’s estimates of the amount of redistribution that would be required, by pointing out flaws with his understanding of how the hypothetical insurance market would function. Nevertheless, Markovits patched it up and he used this patched-up version of Dworkin’s HIMAD together with his own version of the TS argument to reach his own conservative estimate of how much redistribution there ought to be in an egalitarian society. Notably though, on Markovits’ account once the HIMAD is patched-up and properly understood, the TS argument will also allegedly show that the two aims of egalitarianism are not necessarily complementary, but rather that they can actually compete with one another. According to his own ‘equal-agent’ egalitarian theory, the aim of choice preservation is more important than the aim of luck elimination, and so he alleges that when the latter aim comes into conflict with the former aim then the latter will need to be sacrificed to ensure that people are not subordinated to one another as agents. I believe that Markovits’ critique of Dworkin is spot on, but I also think that his own positive thesis — and hence his conclusion about how much redistribution there ought to be in an egalitarian society — is flawed. Hence, this paper will begin in Section I by explaining how Dworkin uses the HIMAD and his TS argument to estimate the amount of redistribution that there ought to be in an egalitarian society — this section will be largely expository in content. Markovits’ critique of Dworkin will then be outlined in Section II, as will be his own positive thesis. My critique of Markovits, and my own positive thesis, will then make a fleeting appearance in Section III. Finally, I will conclude by rejecting both Dworkin’s and Markovits’ estimates of the amount of redistribution that there ought to be in an egalitarian society, and by reaffirming the responsibility-tracking egalitarian claim that choice preservation and luck elimination are complementary and not competing egalitarian aims. (shrink)
This paper examines the account of guidance control given in Fischer and Ravizza's book, Responsibility and Control, with the aim of revising it so as to make it a better account of what needs to be added to having alternatives open to yield a specification of the control condition for responsibility that will be acceptable to an adherent of the principle that one is responsible for something only if one could have avoided it.
The concept of luck has played an important role in debates concerning free will and moral responsibility, yet participants in these debates have relied upon an intuitive notion of what luck is. Neil Levy develops an account of luck, which is then applied to the free will debate. He argues that the standard luck objection succeeds against common accounts of libertarian free will, but that it is possible to amend libertarian accounts so that they are no more vulnerable to (...) luck than is compatibilism. But compatibilist accounts of luck are themselves vulnerable to a powerful luck objection: historical compatibilisms cannot satisfactorily explain how agents can take responsibility for their constitutive luck; non-historical compatibilisms run into insurmountable difficulties with the epistemic condition on control over action. Levy argues that because epistemic conditions on control are so demanding that they are rarely satisfied, agents are not blameworthy for performing actions that they take to be best in a given situation. It follows that if there are any actions for which agents are responsible, they are akratic actions; but even these are unacceptably subject to luck. Levy goes on to discuss recent non-historical compatibilisms, and argues that they do not offer a viable alternative to control-based compatibilisms. He suggests that luck undermines our freedom and moral responsibility no matter whether determinism is true or not. (shrink)
We evaluate people and groups as responsible or not, depending on how seriously they take their responsibilities. Often we do this informally, via moral judgment. Sometimes we do this formally, for instance in legal judgment. This article considers mainly moral responsibility, and focuses largely upon individuals. Later sections also comment on the relation between legal and moral responsibility, and on the responsibility of collectives.
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.
Part 1 reviews the general question of when elimination of an entity orproperty is warranted, as opposed to revision of our view of it. Theconnections of this issue with the distinction between context-drivenand theory-driven accounts of reference and essence are probed.Context-driven accounts tend to be less hospitable to eliminativism thantheory-driven accounts, but this tendency should not be overstated.However, since both types of account give essences explanatory depth,eliminativist claims associated with supposed impossible essences areproblematic on both types of account.Part 2 applies (...) these considerations to responsibility in particular. Theimpossibility of regressive choice or control is explained. It is arguedthat this impossibility does not support the claim that no one is everresponsible on either context-driven or theory-driven accounts of`responsibility''. (shrink)
Benjamin Libet, Do we have free will? -- Adina L. Roskies, Why Libet's studies don't pose a threat to free will? -- Alfred r. mele, libet on free will : readiness potentials, decisions, and awareness? -- Susan Pockett and Suzanne Purdy, Are voluntary movements initiated preconsciously? : the relationships between readiness potentials, urges, and decisions? -- William P. Banks and Eve A. Isham, Do we really know what we are doing? : implications of reported time of decision for theories of (...) volition? -- Elisabeth Pacherie and Patrick Haggard, What are intentions? -- Mark Hallett, Volition : how physiology speaks to the issue of responsibility? -- John-Dylan Haynes, Beyond Libet : long-term prediction of free choices from neuroimaging signals? -- F. Carota, M. Desmurget, and A. Sirigu, Forward modeling mediates motor awareness? -- Tashina Graves, Brian Maniscalco, and Hakwan Lau, Volition and the function of consciousness? -- Deborah Talmi and Chris D. Frith, Neuroscience, free will, and responsibility? -- Jeffrey P. Ebert and Daniel M. Wegner, Bending time to one's will? -- Thalia Wheatley and Christine Looser, Prospective codes fulfilled : a potential neural mechanism of the will? -- Terry Horgan, The phenomenology of agency and the libet results? -- Thomas Nadelhoffer, The threat of shrinking agency and free will disillusionism? -- Gideon Yaffe, Libet and the criminal law's voluntary act requirement? -- Larry Alexander, Criminal and moral responsibility and the libet experiments? -- Michael S. Moore, Libet's challenge(s) to responsible agency? -- Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lessons from Libet?. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes between synchronic responsibility (SR) and diachronic responsibility (DR). SR concerns an agent’s responsibility for an act at the time of the action, while DR concerns an agent’s responsibility for an act at some later time. While most theorists implicitly assume that DR is a straightforward matter of personal identity, I argue instead that it is grounded in psychological connectedness. I discuss the implications this distinction has for the concepts of apology, forgiveness, and punishment (...) as well as the way in which this distinction can be used to defend quality of will accounts of responsibility against objections involving psychological manipulation. I argue that the intuition that a manipulated agent is not responsible can be explained by appeal to the conditions of DR and, as such, does not unproblematically shed light on the conditions of SR. (shrink)
Psychopaths have emotional and rational impairments that can be expressed in persistent criminal behaviour. UK and US law has not traditionally excused disordered individuals for their crimes citing these impairments as a cause for their criminal behaviour. Until now, the discussion of whether psychopaths are morally responsible for their behaviour has usually taken place in the realm of philosophy. However, in recent years, this debate has been informed by scientific and psychiatric advancements, fundamentally so with the development of Robert Hare's (...) diagnostic tool, the Psychopathy Checklist. Responsibility and Psychopathy explores the moral responsibility of psychopaths. It engages with problems at the interface between law, psychiatry, and philosophy, and is divided into three parts offering relevant interdisciplinary background information to address this main problem. The first part discusses the public policy and legal responses to psychopathy. It offers an introduction to the central practical issue of how public policy should respond to psychopathy, providing insights for those arguing about the responsibility of psychopaths. The second part introduces recent scientific advancements in the classification, description, explanation, and treatment of psychopathy. The third part of the volume includes chapters covering the most significant dimensions of philosophical debate on the moral and criminal responsibility of psychopaths. Exploring one of the most contentious topics of our time, this book will be fascinating reading for psychiatrists, philosophers, criminologists, and lawyers. Readership: Psychiatrists, philosophers, psychologists, criminologists . (shrink)
This essay argues that while the notion of collective responsibiility is incoherent if it is taken to be an application of the Kantian model of moral responsibility to groups, it is coherent -- and important -- if formulated in terms of the moral reactions that we can have to groups that cause harm in the world. I formulate collective responsibility as such and in doing so refocus attention from intentionality to the production of harm.
There is a familiar chain of reasoning that goes something like this: if everything is caused, no one is free, and thus, no one can be morally responsible. Reasoning like this has made scientific explanations of human behavior (e.g., biology, psychology, and neuroscience) threatening to familiar ideas of responsibility, blameworthiness, and merit. Rather than directly attacking the chain of reasoning that gives rise to these worries, I explore an alternative approach, one that begins by considering the "use" of moral (...)responsibility. What role does the concept play for us? What structure, if any, would an ideal set of practices and attitudes about moral responsibility have to it? I outline a new account of responsibility and consider what it might mean for traditional worries about causal, scientific explanations of human behavior. (shrink)
This important new volume argues that responsibility is a characteristic of fundamental importance for the survival of modern democratic structures. It represents a comprehensive collection of cutting-edge psychological, philosophical, sociological and evolutionary approaches to the topic.
This book is aimed primarily at the practitioners of morals such as psychiatrists,lawyers and policy-makers. My professional background is clinical psychiatry It is divided into three parts. The first of these provides an overview of moral theory, morality in non-human species and recent developments in neuroscience that are of relevance to moral and legal responsibility. In the second part I offer a new paradigm of free action based on the overlaps between free will, moral value and art. In the (...) overlap between free will and moral value we find moral responsibility and moral autonomy. Free will and art share characteristics of originality, spontaneity and creativity. Art and moral value are related by way of the moral content of art and the formal similarities of moral and aesthetic judgments. In the overlap between art, free will and moral value we find religious belief, the creation of moral value and the creation of moral identity. In the third part, I discuss the application of these ideas to common clinical conditions such as eating disorders, addictions, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and the dissociative disorders. Wherever possible, I illustrate the points that are made with real-life clinical examples. I finish by considering how ideas of free will and responsibility are relevant to psychotherapy. (shrink)
Nelkin presents a simple and natural account of freedom and moral responsibility which responds to the great variety of challenges to the idea that we are free and responsible, before ultimately reaffirming our conception of ourselves as agents. Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility begins with a defense of the rational abilities view, according to which one is responsible for an action if and only if one acts with the ability to recognize and act for good reasons. The (...) view is compatibilist -- that is, on the view defended, responsibility is compatible with determinism -- and one of its striking features is a certain asymmetry: it requires the ability to do otherwise for responsibility when actions are praiseworthy, but not when they are blameworthy. In defending and elaborating the view, Nelkin questions long-held assumptions such as those concerning the relation between fairness and blame and the nature of so-called reactive attitudes such as resentment and forgiveness. Her argument not only fits with a metaphysical picture of causation -- agent-causation -- often assumed to be available only to incompatibilist accounts, but receives positive support from the intuitively appealing Ought Implies Can Principle, and establishes a new interpretation of freedom and moral responsibility that dovetails with a compelling account of our inescapable commitments as rational agents. (shrink)
Garrath Williams claims that truly responsible people must possess a “capacity … to respond [appropriately] to normative demands” (2008:462). However, there are people whom we would normally praise for their responsibility despite the fact that they do not yet possess such a capacity (e.g. consistently well-behaved young children), and others who have such capacity but who are still patently irresponsible (e.g. some badly-behaved adults). Thus, I argue that to qualify for the accolade “a responsible person” one need not possess (...) such a capacity, but only to be earnestly willing to do the right thing and to have a history that testifies to this willingness. Although we may have good reasons to prefer to have such a capacity ourselves, and to associate ourselves with others who have it, at a conceptual level I do not think that such considerations support the claim that having this capacity is a necessary condition of being a responsible person in the virtue sense. (shrink)
In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of a compatibilist position--that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it overlooks the crucial role of moral sentiment in Hume's picture of human nature. Hume was concerned to describe the regular mechanisms which generate moral sentiments (...) such as responsibility, and Russell argues that his conception of free will must be interprted within this naturalistic framework. He goes on to discuss Hume's views about the nature and character of moral sentiment; the extent to which we have control over our moral character; and the justification of punishment. Throughout, Russell argues that the naturalistic avenue of interpretation of Hume's thought, far from draining it of its contemporary interest and significance, reveals it to be of great relevance to the ongoing contemporary debate. (shrink)
In Part I, I reflect in some detail upon the free will problem and about the way its understanding has radically changed. First I outline the four questions that go into making the free will problem. Second, I consider four paradigmatic shifts that have occurred in our understanding of this problem. Then I go on to reflect upon this complex and multi-level situation. In Part II of this essay, I explore the major alternative positions, and defend my views, in new (...) ways. Instead of trying to spread over many issues, I present one new argument against compatibilism, which I call “The Trap”. This tries to explicate the main problem that I find with this position. Then I present an exposition of what we nevertheless need to follow, which I call “the Appreciation of Agency”. This supports a measure of compatibilism in a more modest form, and opposes hard determinism. On this basis, we can confront the philosophical and practical questions, as to what we ought to believe and how we ought to live, with respect to free will and moral responsibility. This leads to what I call “The Bubble,” which addresses the way in which we deal with the tension between the absence of libertarian free will and The Trap, and the crucial need for the Appreciation of Agency. I conclude by reflecting upon three attributes of the free will problem that I consider central, but that have been neglected in the debate: complexity, risk and tragedy. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that collective responsibility can be based on group membership. It argues that collective responsibility is best understood in terms of duties to respond to the victims of collective crimes. Reasonable fear on the part of the victimized groups creates duties to respond for members of the perpetrating group. This account does a better job of capturing our intuitions about actual cases and the phenomenology of collective responsibility than other accounts currently on offer. (...) It also offers us a justification of collective responsibility judgments that is compatible with the separateness of persons. (shrink)
It is taken to be platitude that I can be responsible only for my own actions. Many have taken this to entail the slogan that responsibility presupposes personal identity. In this paper, I show that even if we grant the platitude, the slogan is not entailed and is at any rate false. I then suggest what the relevant non-identity relation grounding the ownership of actions consists in instead.
John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza have constructed a theory of moral responsibility according to which agents are responsible only if they take responsibility in a particular way. Crucial to taking responsibility is coming to adopt a certain set of beliefs about oneself, such as the belief that one is a legitimate target of attitudes like gratitude and resentment, praise and blame. Moreover, agents must come to adopt this belief in a way that is 'appropriately based' upon (...) their evidence, if they are to be genuinely responsible for what they do. In this paper I argue that agents need not meet these conditions in order to be morally responsible. I offer a case in which the agent thinks of himself as responsible, appears to be responsible, but fails to take responsibility in Fischer and Ravizza's sense. I then argue that Fischer and Ravizza's account of responsibility for consequences is in conflict with their contention that individuals who reject the justifiability of responsibility ascriptions fail, thereby, to be morally responsible agents. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to develop a notion of responsibility (semantic responsibility) that is to the notion of belief what epistemic responsibility is to the notion of justification. 'Being semantically responsible' is shown to involve the fulfilment of cognitive duties which allow the agent to engage in the kind of reason-laden discourses which render her beliefs appropriately sensitive to correction. The concept of semantic responsibility suggests that the notion of belief found in contemporary philosophical debates (...) about content implicitly encompasses radically different classes of beliefs. In what follows I make those different types explicit, and sketch some implications for naturalisation projects in semantics and for accounts of the (putative) non-conceptual content of perceptual experiences. (shrink)
Abstract It is common practice to regard participants in assisted and collaborative reproduction (gamete donors, embryologists, fertility doctors, etc.) as simply providing a desired biological product or medical service. These agents are not procreators in the ordinary sense, nor do they stand in any kind of meaningful parental relation to the resulting offspring. This paper challenges the common view by defending a principle of procreative responsibility and then demonstrating that this standard applies as much to those who provide reproductive (...) assistance in the form of medical services or gametes, as it does to coital reproducers or intending parents. Drawing on vocabulary from the common law tradition, I suggest that it may be helpful to refer to the various participants in assisted and collaborative reproduction (ACR) as accessories to procreation. Referring to the participants in ACR as accessories to procreation highlights the fact that these agents are not just providing medical services or products. They are participating in a supply chain designed to bring about new persons. I conclude by arguing that regulative standards in the fertility industry should be structured such that they permit, facilitate, and encourage agents to satisfy the requirements of procreative responsibility. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9330-7 Authors Melissa Seymour Fahmy, Department of Philosophy, University of Georgia, 107 Peabody Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USA Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice Online ISSN 1572-8447 Print ISSN 1386-2820. (shrink)
Intentional collective action -- Collective moral responsibility -- Collective guilt -- Individual responsibility for (and in) collective wrongs -- Collective obligation, individual obligation, and individual moral responsibility -- Individual moral responsibility in wrongful social practice.
I consider some themes and issues arising in recent work on moral responsibility, focusing on three recent books —Carlos Moya's Moral Responsibility, Al Mele's Free Will and Luck, and John Martin Fischer's My Way. I argue that these texts collectively suggest some difficulties with the way in which many issues are currently framed in the free will debates, including disputes about what constitutes compatibilism and incompatibilism and the relevance of intuitions and ordinary language for describing the metaphysics of (...) free will and moral responsibility. I also argue that each of the accounts raise more particular puzzles: it is unclear to what extent Moya’s account is properly an account of free will; Mele’s account raises questions about the significance of luck for compatibilist theories; and Fischer’s account of the value of responsibility as self-expression raises questions about the normative significance of moral responsibility. (shrink)
Introduction -- What is personal responsibility? -- Ordinary language -- Common conceptions -- What do philosophers mean by responsibility? -- Personally responsible for what? -- What do philosophers think? part I -- Causes -- Capacity -- Control -- Choice versus brute luck -- Second-order attitudes -- Equality of opportunity -- Deservingness -- Reasonableness -- Reciprocity -- Equal shares -- Combining criteria -- What do philosophers think? part II -- Utility -- Self-respect -- Autonomy -- Human flourishing -- Natural (...) duties and special obligations -- A matter of perspectives -- Combining values -- What do politicians think? -- A brief typology -- International comparisons -- Welfare reform -- Healthcare reform -- Rights and responsibilities -- On the responsibilities of politicians -- What do ordinary people think? -- Why ask? -- Attitudes to welfare claimants -- When push comes to shove -- Perceptions and reality -- Further international comparisons -- The trouble with opinion surveys -- Four contemporary issues in focus -- Unemployment -- Health -- Drug abuse -- Personal debt and financial rewards -- So how do we decide? -- Getting the public involved -- Citizens juries -- Answering some potential criticisms. (shrink)
There has been much debate whether computers can be responsible. This question is usually discussed in terms of personhood and personal characteristics, which a computer may or may not possess. If a computer fulfils the conditions required for agency or personhood, then it can be responsible; otherwise not. This paper suggests a different approach. An analysis of the concept of responsibility shows that it is a social construct of ascription which is only viable in certain social contexts and which (...) serves particular social aims. If this is the main aspect of responsibility then the question whether computers can be responsible no longer hinges on the difficult problem of agency but on the possibly simpler question whether responsibility ascriptions to computers can fulfil social goals. The suggested solution to the question whether computers can be subjects of responsibility is the introduction of a new concept, called “quasi-responsibility” which will emphasise the social aim of responsibility ascription and which can be applied to computers. (shrink)
This introductory chapter discusses the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications--including the debate between Saul Smilansky's "illusionism," Thomas Nadelhoffer's "disillusionism," Shaun Nichols' "anti-revolution," and the "optimistic skepticism" of Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, Tamler Sommers, and others.
This article examines the responses of two communities to hate crimes in their cities. In particular it explores how community understandings of responsibility shape collective responses to hate crimes. I use the case of Bridesberg, Pennsylvania to explore how anti-racist work is restricted by backward-looking conceptions of moral responsibility (e.g. being responsible). Using recent writings in feminist ethics.(1) I argue for a forward-looking notion that advocates an active view: taking responsibility for attitudes and behaviors that foster climates (...) in which hate crimes are more likely to occur, even when a person's individual actions do not contribute directly to harms. Using the case of Billings, Montana, I explain how recent Not In Our Town campaigns take responsibility for hate crimes in the ways feminist literature suggests. -/- I take as my point of departure hate crimes committed against the family of Bridget Ward, an African American woman, who moved into the suburb of Bridesburg in 1996. When issues of responsibility for racism arose in the local press, most Bridesbergers insisted that their community was not racist; they blamed only the individual vandals. This narrow blame-assigning focus is in keeping with most Anglo-American definitions of responsibility as belonging essentially to individuals and not to communities. Traditionally, moral and legal theory construct responsibility from a perspective that looks downward and back. These perspectives are preoccupied with punishment and reward, praise and blame; they assume justice is done when guilty parties are found and tried. -/- This focus masks deeper community problems. As Elizabeth Spelman remarks, "tolerance is easy if those who are asked to express it need not change a whit." (2) Focus on praise and blame is, in part, a function of race privilege. Bridesberg is 98% white, and part of "the arrogance whitely behavior" is positioning one's self as a judge, expert, and problem solver. (3) The view from this particular subject position limits attention to individuals and their actions, rather than to communities and their practices; it shifts attention away from the fact that Bridesberger's collective practice of distrusting outsiders has lead to hate crimes in the past. Pointing to vandals and claiming "they are racist" does not free one's community of racism. It reinscribes a community spirit that is resistant to change. -/- The second part of this essay explores what communities like Bridesberg might have done to prevent violence. Often there is little individuals alone can do to stop racial violence, but that there is a sense in which community members are obligated to organize themselves. Strategies that focus community responsibility on retribution rather than long-term change, are short lived and ineffective. Anti-racist activism requires a forward-looking view of responsibility: one that aims at inoculating the community against increased risk of violence. This requires taking responsibility for the fact that one's town might foster climates in which hate crimes are more likely to occur. It requires that we begin inquiry in the lives of those harmed. -/- Collective citizen efforts to prevent Aryan groups from gaining a foothold in Billings, Montana offers a clear illustration of how to take responsibility for hate crimes using strategies designed consciously to prevent further hate crimes (e.g., when Black Churches were threatens, all community members attended services there; when a rock was thrown through a window with a menorah, many homes displayed menorahs). The community responses in Billings are a stark contrast to those of Bridesburg, and serve as a powerful example of how forward-looking notions of responsibility can translate into effective political strategy. Although, these strategies are not in and of themselves feminist, they are powerful illustrations of what feminists mean by forward-looking views. The success of resident's collective action and coalition building gave rise to a national Not In Our Town campaign used in about a dozen cities today. (shrink)
Roboethics is a recently developed field of applied ethics which deals with the ethical aspects of technologies such as robots, ambient intelligence, direct neural interfaces and invasive nano-devices and intelligent soft bots. In this article we look specifically at the issue of (moral) responsibility in artificial intelligent systems. We argue for a pragmatic approach, where responsibility is seen as a social regulatory mechanism. We claim that having a system which takes care of certain tasks intelligently, learning from experience (...) and making autonomous decisions gives us reasons to talk about a system (an artifact) as being “responsible” for a task. No doubt, technology is morally significant for humans, so the “responsibility for a task” with moral consequences could be seen as moral responsibility. Intelligent systems can be seen as parts of socio-technological systems with distributed responsibilities, where responsible (moral) agency is a matter of degree. Knowing that all possible abnormal conditions of a system operation can never be predicted, and no system can ever be tested for all possible situations of its use, the responsibility of a producer is to assure proper functioning of a system under reasonably foreseeable circumstances. Additional safety measures must however be in place in order to mitigate the consequences of an accident. The socio-technological system aimed at assuring a beneficial deployment of intelligent systems has several functional responsibility feedback loops which must function properly: the awareness and procedures for handling of risks and responsibilities on the side of designers, producers, implementers and maintenance personnel as well as the understanding of society at large of the values and dangers of intelligent technology. The basic precondition for developing of this socio-technological control system is education of engineers in ethics and keeping alive the democratic debate on the preferences about future society. (shrink)
We are strongly inclined to believe in moral responsibility, that some human agents truly deserve moral praise or blame for some of their actions. However, recent philosophical discussion has put this natural belief in the reality of moral responsibility under suspicion. There are important reasons to think that moral responsibility is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, possibly rendering moral responsibility an impossibility. This book lays out the major arguments for skepticism about moral responsibility and (...) subjects them to sustained and penetrating critical analysis. Moral Responsibility lays out the intricate dialectic involved in these issues in a helpful and accessible way. The book goes on to suggest a way in which skepticism can be avoided, arguing that an excessive pre-eminence given to the will might lie at the root of skepticism of moral responsibility. Carlos Moya offers an alternative to skepticism, showing how a cognitive approach to moral responsibility which stresses the importance of belief would rescue our natural and centrally important faith in the reality of moral responsibility. (shrink)
This article’s guiding question is about bullet biting: When should compatibilists about moral responsibility bite the bullet in responding to stories used in arguments for incompatibilism about moral responsibility? Featured stories are vignettes in which agents’ systems of values are radically reversed by means of brainwashing and the story behind the zygote argument. The malady known as “intuition deficit disorder” is also discussed.
PurposeThis paper presents an ethnographic study of gamete donation in Latvia. The aim of the study is to describe and analyse the practice of applying responsibility in gamete donation cases from the perspective of anthropology and ethics.MethodsWe performed thirty semi-structured interviews with laypeople and five focus group discussions among adolescents. The third source of data was media analysis: 57 articles discussing assisted reproduction in Latvian electronic popular media as well as internet discussions among ART participants. The data were processed (...) using Atlas.ti.ResultsThe data showed that the situation of ART responsibility is formulated through defining one’s relationship to the gametes, to the nation and the relationship between parent and child.ConclusionsThe practice of gamete donation does not create new responsibilities but uses already existing relations in a situation marked by new knowledge. Relationships among ART users, donors and physicians often result in an imbalance of responsibility sharing. The framework of relational ethics is one possible way to change the practice of balancing and sharing responsibility in ART applications. (shrink)
In Against Moral Responsibility, Bruce Waller launches a spirited attack on a system that is profoundly entrenched in our society and its institutions, deeply rooted in our emotions, and vigorously defended by philosophers from ancient times to the present. Waller argues that, despite the creative defenses of it by contemporary thinkers, moral responsibility cannot survive in our naturalistic-scientific system. The scientific understanding of human behavior and the causes that shape human character, he contends, leaves no room for moral (...)responsibility. Waller argues that moral responsibility in all its forms--including criminal justice, distributive justice, and all claims of just deserts--is fundamentally unfair and harmful and that its abolition will be liberating and beneficial. What we really want--natural human free will, moral judgments, meaningful human relationships, creative abilities--would survive and flourish without moral responsibility. In the course of his argument, Waller examines the origins of the basic belief in moral responsibility, proposes a naturalistic understanding of free will, offers a detailed argument against moral responsibility and critiques arguments in favor of it, gives a general account of what a world without moral responsibility would look like, and examines the social and psychological aspects of abolishing moral responsibility. Waller not only mounts a vigorous, and philosophically rigorous, attack on the moral responsibility system, but also celebrates the benefits that would result from its total abolition. (shrink)
In the past decade, a growing number of authors, notably Thomas Pogge, have maintained that citizens in economically advanced societies are responsible for extreme and extensive poverty in the developing world. Iris Marion Young proposed the social connection model of responsibility, which asserts that these citizens participate in networks that give rise to global structural injustices. While Pogge’s argument for the existence of citizens’ responsibility has been the subject of widespread debate, few efforts have been made to scrutinise (...) the solidity of Young’s perspective. To plug this gap in the literature, this paper assesses the pertinence of Young’s view. A more traditional view than those of Pogge and Young considers poverty as indicating a lack of respect for the human rights of those living in less-developed countries. Rights theorists of global justice, however, have paid scant attention to philosophical observations concerning redistribution within the borders of a society. To remedy this shortcoming, this paper endeavours to develop the theory that citizens in affluent societies bear a duty correlative to the subsistence right of the global needy, by exploring sufficientarianism, which is one of the primary views on domestic redistribution. To begin with, I make a distinction between the responsibility-based theory and the right-based theory of global justice. This is followed by a close examination of Young’s social connection model as a significant version of the former position. I then offer a right-based argument that invokes the sufficientarian idea of the human right to live above the threshold of safe and healthy subsistence. (shrink)
Third-party property insurance (TPPI) protects insured drivers who accidentally damage an expensive car from the threat of financial ruin. Perhaps more importantly though, TPPI also protects the victims whose losses might otherwise go uncompensated. Ought responsible drivers therefore take out TPPI? This paper begins by enumerating some reasons for why a rational person might believe that they have a moral obligation to take out TPPI. It will be argued that if what is at stake in taking responsibility is the (...) ability to compensate our possible future victims for their losses, then it might initially seem that most people should be thankful for the availability of relatively inexpensive TPPI because without it they may not have sufficient funds to do the right thing and compensate their victims in the event of an accident. But is the ability to compensate one's victims really what is at stake in taking responsibility? The second part of this paper will critically examine the arguments for the above position, and it will argue that these arguments do not support the conclusion that injurers should compensate their victims for their losses, and hence that drivers need not take out TPPI in order to be responsible. Further still, even if these arguments did support the conclusion that injurers should compensate their victims for their losses, then (perhaps surprisingly) nobody should to be allowed to take out TPPI because doing so would frustrate justice. (shrink)
The essays in this volume address questions about responsibility that arise in moral philosophy and legal theory. Some analyse different theories of causality, asking which theory offers the best account of human agency and the most satisfactory resolution of troubling controversies about free will and determinism. Some essays look at responsibility in the legal realm, seeking to determine how the law should assign liability for negligence, or whether the courts should allow defendants to offer excuses for their wrongdoing (...) or to claim some form of 'diminished responsibility'. Other essays explore libertarian views about political freedom and accountability, asking whether libertarian positions on consent, contract law, and responsibility are consistent, or whether restitution is superior to retribution or deterrence as a basis for a theory of corrective justice. Still others examine the notion of partial or divided responsibility, or the relationship between responsibility and the emotions. (shrink)
Whether responsibility for actions and omissions requires the ability to do otherwise is an important issue in contemporary philosophy. However, a closely related but distinct issue, namely whether doxastic responsibility requires the ability to believe otherwise, has been largely neglected. This paper fills this remarkable lacuna by providing a defence of the thesis that doxastic responsibility entails the ability to believe otherwise. On the one hand, it is argued that the fact that unavoidability is normally an excuse (...) counts in favour of this thesis. On the other hand, three objections against this thesis are discussed and criticized. First, one might think that what suffices for doxastic responsibility is control over or influence on certain desirable or undesirable properties of beliefs. It is argued that this objection misrepresents the issue under consideration. Second, it may be objected that the thesis is contradicted by our intuitions in doxastic analogues of Frankfurt-style scenarios. It is argued that distinguishing between belief-universals and belief-particulars helps to see why this argument fails. Third and finally, one might draw an analogy with the asymmetry thesis in ethics by arguing that even if blameworthy belief requires the ability to believe otherwise, praiseworthy belief does not. It is argued that the main arguments in favour of this presumed asymmetry are wanting, partly because they fail to distinguish between two different kinds of praiseworthiness. Finally, the author sketches three implications of the thesis that doxastic responsibility entails the ability to believe otherwise: counterfactual construals of responsible belief might be tenable, the deontological conception of epistemic justification needs revision on an important point, and there might be an important asymmetry between beliefs on the one hand and actions and many non-doxastic consequences on the other. (shrink)
The ‘gene of’ is a teleosemantic expression that conveys a simplistic and linear relationship between a gene and a phenotype. Throughout the 20th century, geneticists studied these genes of traits. The studies were often polemical when they concerned human traits: the ‘crime gene’, ‘poverty gene’, ‘IQ gene’, ‘gay gene’ or ‘gene of alcoholism’. Quite recently, a controversy occurred in 2006 in New Zealand that started with the claim that a ‘warrior gene’ exists in the Mãori community. This claim came from (...) a geneticist working on the MAOA gene. This article is interested in the responsibility of that researcher regarding the origin of the controversy. Several errors were made: overestimation of results, abusive use of the ‘gene of’ kind of expression, poor communication with the media and a lack of scientific culture. The issues of the debate were not taken into account sufficiently, either from the political, social, ethical or even the genetic points of view. After more than 100 years of debates around ‘genes of’ all kinds (here, the ‘warrior gene’), geneticists may not hide themselves behind the media when a controversy occurs. Responsibilities have to be assumed. (shrink)
I argue that unfortunate formative circumstances do not undermine the warrant for either responsibility or blame. I then diagnose the tendency to think that formative circumstances do matter in this way, arguing that knowledge of these circumstances can play an essential epistemic role in our interpersonal interactions.
The purpose of this article is to argue for a position holding that epigenetic responsibility primarily should be a political and not an individual responsibility. Epigenetic is a rapidly growing research field studying regulations of gene expression that do not change the DNA sequence. Knowledge about these mechanisms is still uncertain in many respects, but main presumptions are that they are triggered by environmental factors and life style and, to a certain extent, heritable to subsequent generations, thereby reminding (...) of aspects of Lamarckism. Epigenetic research advances give rise to intriguing challenges for responsibility relations between the society and the individual. Responsibility is commonly understood in a backwards-looking manner, identifying causally responsible actors to blame for a bad outcome. If only a backwards-looking responsibility model is applied, epigenetics might give rise to arduous responsibility ascriptions to individuals for their health and the health of their future descendants. This would put heavy responsibility burdens on actors constrained by unequal social and economic structures. In contrast, a forward-looking responsibility notion takes account of structural conditions and pay attention to who is best placed to do something about conditions contributing to bad outcomes. A forward-looking responsibility notion would partly free disadvantaged individuals from responsibility, and identify actors with power and capacity to do something about structural factors constraining genuine choice. (shrink)
The notion of radical evil plays a more important role in Kant's moral theory than is typically recognized. In Religion Within the Limits of Mere Reason, radical evil is both an innate propensity and a morally imputable act – a paradoxical status that has prompted commentators to reject it as inconsistent with the rest of Kant's moral theory. In contrast, I argue that the notion of radical evil accounts for the beginning of moral responsibility in Kant's theory, since the (...) act of attributing radical evil to one's freedom is an inauguration into the autonomous stance. (shrink)
This article explores the significance of agents’ histories for directly free actions and actions for which agents are directly morally responsible. Candidates for relevant compatibilist historical constraints discussed by Michael McKenna and Alfred Mele are assessed, as is the bearing of manipulation on free action and moral responsibility.
In three experiments we studied lay observers’ attributions of responsibility for an antisocial act (homicide). We systematically varied both the degree to which the action was coerced by external circumstances and the degree to which the actor endorsed and accepted ownership of the act, a psychological state that philosophers have termed ‘identiﬁcation’. Our ﬁndings with respect to identiﬁcation were highly consistent. The more an actor was identiﬁed with an action, the more likely observers were to assign responsibility to (...) the actor, even when the action was performed under constraints so powerful that no other behavioral option was available. Our ﬁndings indicate that social cognition involving assignment of responsibility for an action is a more complex process than previous research has indicated. It would appear that laypersons’ judgments of moral responsibility may, in some circumstances, accord with philosophical views in which freedom and determinism are regarded to be compatible. (shrink)
The purpose of this book is to formulate a way of thinking about issues of power, moral identity, and ethical norms by developing a theory of responsibility from a specifically theological viewpoint; the author thereby makes clear the significance for Christian commitment of current reflection on moral responsibility. The concept of responsibility is relatively new in ethics, but the drastic extension of human power through various technological developments has lately thrown into question the way human beings conceive (...) of themselves as morally accountable agents. It is this radical extension of power in our time which poses the need for a new paradigm of responsibility in ethics. Schweiker engages in an informed way with what is therefore a highly topical discussion. By developing a coherent theory of responsibility, and inquiring as to its source, the author demonstrates the unique contribution of Christian faith to ethics in our time. (shrink)
Dennis Thompson argues for a more robust conception of responsibility in public life than prevails in contemporary democracies. Thompson suggests that we stop thinking about public ethics in terms of individual vices (such as selfishness or sexual misconduct) and start thinking about it in terms of institutional vices (such as abuse of power and lack of accountability).
This article argues against Anna Stilz's recent attempt to solve the problem of citizens' collective responsibility in democratic states. I show that her solution could only apply to state actions that are (in legal terminology) unjustified but excusable. Stilz's marquee case – the 2003 invasion of Iraq – does not, I will argue, fit this bill; nor, in all likelihood, does any other case in recorded history. Thus, this article concludes, we may allow that Stilz's argument offers a theoretically (...) cogent case for citizens' task-responsibility in democratic states (given the right conditions); it just so happens that few if any cases satisfy these conditions. (shrink)