Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (2):283-296 (2016)

Matthew Talbert
West Virginia University
In Making Sense of Free Will and Moral Responsibility Dana Nelkin defends the “rational abilities view.” According to this view, agents are responsible for their behavior if and only if they act with the ability to recognize and act for good reasons. It follows that agents who act well are open to praise regardless of whether they could have acted differently, but agents who act badly are open to blame only if they could have acted on the moral reasons that counted against their behavior. I summarize the main themes of Nelkin’s theory of responsibility and offer reasons for rejecting the claim that agents are blameworthy only if they could have responded to moral considerations. It is true that wrongdoers who could not have responded appropriately to moral considerations are often excused from blame, but I argue that not all the forms that such incapacity can take will furnish grounds for excuse. In other words, some circumstances that entail that a wrongdoer cannot respond to moral considerations are compatible with that agent fulfilling conditions that are sufficient for moral responsibility
Keywords Dana Nelkin  Free will  Moral responsibility  Praise  Blame  Asymmetry
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11572-014-9309-2
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 56,016
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
The 'Ought' and the 'Can'.Katerina Deligiorgi - 2018 - Con-Textos Kantianos 8:324-347.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Abilities. [REVIEW]Randolph Clarke - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):451-458.
Moral Competence, Moral Blame, and Protest.Matthew Talbert - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (1):89-109.
Explaining the Knobe Effect.Verena Wagner - 2014 - In Christoph Luetge, Hannes Rusch & Matthias Uhl (eds.), Experimental Ethics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 65-79.
Responsibility and Rational Abilities: Defending an Asymmetrical View.Dana K. Nelkin - 2008 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (4):497-515.
An Agent-Causal View of Free Will.Randolph Kent Clarke - 1990 - Dissertation, Princeton University
Praise and Blame.Garrath Williams - 2004 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Nature and Ethics of Blame.D. Justin Coates & Neal A. Tognazzini - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (3):197-207.


Added to PP index

Total views
50 ( #198,222 of 2,403,593 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #551,240 of 2,403,593 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes