Reasons-Responsive Compatibilism and the Consequences of Belief

The Journal of Ethics 11 (4):357-375 (2007)
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John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza offer a theory of moral responsibility which makes responsibility dependent upon the way in which moral agents view themselves. According to the theory, agents are responsible for their actions only if they think of themselves as apt candidates for praise and blame; if they come to believe they are not apt candidates for praise and blame, they are ipso facto not morally responsible. In what follows, I show that Fischer and Ravizza’s account of responsibility for consequences is inconsistent with this subjective element of their theory, and that the subjective element may be retained only if they are willing to implausibly restrict their account of responsibility for consequences. I end by discussing the broad significance of the failure of the subjective element for their overall approach to moral responsibility.



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Neal Judisch
University of Oklahoma

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