This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors go on (...) to offer a sustained defense of the thesis that moral responsibility is compatible with causal determinism. (shrink)
This unique text focuses on ethical puzzles and hypothetical problems to help students at all levels understand and refine their moral principles and see how they apply to various situations. An extensive, thoughtfully written introduction provides the theoretical background and lays out numerous moral puzzle cases that are analyzed and discussed throughout the text. Challenging follow-up articles argue a variety of stances on the ethical puzzles set forth in the introduction.
In this brief concluding chapter we first wish to present the overall argument of the book in a concise, nontechnical way. We hope this will provide a clear view of the argument. We shall then point to some of the distinctive--and attractive--features of our approach. Finally, we shall offer some preliminary thoughts about extending the account of moral responsibility to apply to emotions.
I am very grateful to the thoughtful and probing critical discussions by the nine authors who have discussed themes from my two collections, My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility, and Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will. In this essay I seek to respond to some of the points raised in these essays. I am unable to address all of the critiques, but I have certainly learned a great deal from these extremely insightful and generous papers, and I (...) hope to address more of the issues in future work. (shrink)
The leading idea of our theory of moral responsibility is that responsibility is associated with control. But we contend that there are two distinct kinds of control. Regulative control involves alternative possibilities: it is a kind of dual power of free action. In contrast, guidance control does not, by its nature, involve alternative possibilities. Whereas typically it might be thought that regulative and guidance control go together, the Frankfurt-type cases show that they are separate and distinct sorts of control. And, (...) whereas typically it is thought that moral responsibility requires regulative control, we claim that moral responsibility—for actions, omissions, and consequences—simply requires guidance control. Thus, although we do not believe that moral responsibility requires alternative possibilities, we preserve the traditional association of moral responsibility with control. (shrink)
This work presents an "actual-sequence" model of moral responsibility. In contrast to many traditional views, an "actual-sequence" model holds that ascriptions of moral responsibility do not necessarily depend upon whether agents are free to pursue alternative courses of action; rather what is important is what the agents actually do, and how their actions come to be performed. ;Part One of this work sketches an actual-sequence theory that associates moral responsibility with control. I motivate this approach through a series of "Frankfurt-type" (...) examples which illustrate that even though agents lack alternative possibilities, they still may be held responsible in virtue of freely bringing about an event; such agents are said to exercise "actual causal control." The proposed theory has the important advantage of reconciling responsibility and causal determinism, even if determinism is incompatible with freedom to do otherwise. The next two chapters aim to defend this "semi-compatibilist" view against a variety of objections. Chapter 3 addresses a range of objections which can be raised against the Frankfurt-type examples. Chapter 4 addresses Peter van Inwagen's "direct" argument which purports to show that responsibility and determinism are incompatible. ;Part Two of this work presents a more precise analysis of actual causal control. Through an examination of several approaches , Chapters 5 and 6 develop an analysis of control which is based on the idea that in order to be responsible, agents must act in ways that are responsive to an appropriate pattern of both moral and non-moral reasons. Chapter 7 expands this account by arguing that ascriptions of responsibility depend not only on the current responsiveness of an agent, but also on the history which leads to this pattern of response. To support this point, I sketch an account of the process of taking responsibility which captures one way in which historical considerations play an important role in our ascriptions of moral responsibility. (shrink)