Power and moral responsibility

Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):127 – 149 (2009)
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Our moral responsibility for our actions seems to depend on our possession of a power to determine for ourselves what actions we perform - a power of self-determination. What kind of power is this? The paper discusses what power in general might involve, what differing kinds of power there might be, and the nature of self-determination in particular. A central question is whether this power on which our moral responsibility depends is by its nature a two-way power, involving a power over alternatives or a freedom to do otherwise. Criticism is made of various attempts to understand self-determination in one-way terms, whether as a capacity for rationality (McDowell) or as a form of voluntariness (Frankfurt). It is argued in particular that Frankfurt's arguments to show that moral responsibility does not depend on a freedom to do otherwise beg the question against his opponents



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Tom Pink
King's College London

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References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Oxford University Press USA.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - London, England: Oxford University Press.

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