Responsibility in a World of Causes

Philosophic Exchange 40:56-78 (2010)
There is a familiar chain of reasoning that goes something like this: if everything is caused, no one is free, and thus, no one can be morally responsible. Reasoning like this has made scientific explanations of human behavior (e.g., biology, psychology, and neuroscience) threatening to familiar ideas of responsibility, blameworthiness, and merit. Rather than directly attacking the chain of reasoning that gives rise to these worries, I explore an alternative approach, one that begins by considering the "use" of moral responsibility. What role does the concept play for us? What structure, if any, would an ideal set of practices and attitudes about moral responsibility have to it? I outline a new account of responsibility and consider what it might mean for traditional worries about causal, scientific explanations of human behavior.
Keywords Responsibility  Revisionism  science  determinism
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