How to be an Actualist and Blame People

Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 6 (2019)
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The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics concerns the relationship between an agent’s free actions and her moral obligations. The actualist affirms, while the possibilist denies, that facts about what agents would freely do in certain circumstances partly determines that agent’s moral obligations. This paper assesses the plausibility of actualism and possibilism in light of desiderata about accounts of blameworthiness. This paper first argues that actualism cannot straightforwardly accommodate certain very plausible desiderata before offering a few independent solutions on behalf of the actualist. This paper then argues that, contrary to initial appearances, possibilism is subject to its own comparably troubling blameworthiness problem.



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Author Profiles

Travis Timmerman
Seton Hall University
Philip Swenson
William & Mary

Citations of this work

Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Actualism, Possibilism, and the Nature of Consequentialism.Yishai Cohen & Travis Timmerman - 2020 - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Risky Thoughts.Philip Swenson - 2023 - The Journal of Ethics 27 (2):123-130.

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References found in this work

Responsibility From the Margins.David Shoemaker - 2015 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The schizophrenia of modern ethical theories.Michael Stocker - 1976 - Journal of Philosophy 73 (14):453-466.
Oughts, options, and actualism.Frank Jackson & Robert Pargetter - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):233-255.

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