This is a Tricky Situation: Situationism and Reasons-Responsiveness

The Journal of Ethics 21 (2):151-183 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Situations are powerful: the evidence from experimental social psychology suggests that agents are hugely influenced by the situations they find themselves in, often without their knowing it. In our paper, we evaluate how situational factors affect our reasons-responsiveness, as conceived of by John Fischer and Mark Ravizza, and, through this, how they also affect moral responsibility. We argue that the situationist experiments suggest that situational factors impair, among other things, our moderate reasons-responsiveness, which is plausibly required for moral responsibility. However, even though we argue that situational factors lower the degree of our reasons-responsiveness, we propose that agents remain moderately reasons-responsive to the degree required for moral responsibility. Nonetheless, those affected by situational factors are arguably less morally responsible than those who are not subject to similar situational factors. We further evaluate an understanding of reasons-responsiveness which relativizes reasons-responsiveness to agents’ circumstances. We argue that the situationist data do not warrant this kind of divergence from Fischer’s and Ravizza’s account. We conclude by discussing what situationist experiments tell us about our relationship to non-reasons.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,569

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Michael McKenna & Brandon Warmke - forthcoming - New Content is Available for Journal of Moral Philosophy.
Situationism and Free Will.Christian Miller - 2017 - In Griffith Meghan, Timpe Kevin & Levy Neil (eds.), Routledge Companion to Free Will. Routledge. pp. 407-422.
Reasons-Responsiveness and Time Travel.Yishai Cohen - 2014 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (3):1-7.
Rational Action and Moral Ownership.Vishnu Sridharan - 2013 - Neuroethics 7 (2):195-203.
Situationism and Moral Responsibility: Free Will in Fragments.Manuel Vargas - 2013 - In Tillman Vierkant, Julian Kiverstein & Andy Clark (eds.), Decomposing the Will. New York: Oxford UP.
Situationism, Responsibility, and Fair Opportunity.David O. Brink - 2013 - Social Philosophy and Policy (1-2):121-149.
Situationism, Responsibility, and Fair Opportunity.David O. Brink - 2013 - Social Philosophy and Policy 30 (1-2):121-149.
A Problem for Guidance Control.Patrick Todd & Neal A. Tognazzini - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233):685-692.


Added to PP

47 (#247,047)

6 months
2 (#278,199)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Stephen Kearns
Florida State University

References found in this work

Causation and Free Will.Carolina Sartorio - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
Reasons as Evidence.Stephen Kearns & Daniel Star - 2009 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:215-42.

View all 23 references / Add more references