Symmetry and Responsibility

Abstract
IN THIS PAPER, I observe a set of symmetries exposed by examining cases of excused blameworthiness and mitigated praiseworthiness, and argue that a prominent contemporary approach to explaining moral responsibility is ill-suited to explaining why the symmetry obtains. The view I have in mind has a distinctive explanatory strategy: an agent S’s being responsible, on this view, is to be explained in terms of the appropriateness of holding S responsible. This explanatory strategy, whatever its other merits, cannot adequately explain the symmetry. In light of my arguments here, this view faces a challenge: it can either give up its distinctive explanatory strategy, or else fail to capture the symmetry. While failure to accommodate the symmetrical observation is not grounds for rejecting this view, it does count as a significant cost, one that ought to be recognized and addressed.
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