R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he (...) argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
In her long-awaited Responsibility for Justice, Young discusses our responsibilities to address "structural" injustices in which we among many are implicated, often by virtue of participating in a market, such as buying goods produced in sweatshops, or participating in booming housing markets that leave many homeless.
David Shoemaker presents a new pluralistic theory of responsibility, based on the idea of quality of will. His approach is motivated by our ambivalence to real-life cases of marginal agency, such as those caused by clinical depression, dementia, scrupulosity, psychopathy, autism, intellectual disability, and poor formative circumstances. Our ambivalent responses suggest that such agents are responsible in some ways but not others. Shoemaker develops a theory to account for our ambivalence, via close examination of several categories of pancultural emotional (...)responsibility responses and their appropriateness conditions. The result is three distinct types of responsibility, each with its own set of required capacities: attributability, answerability, and accountability. Attributability is about the having and expressing of various traits of character, and it is the target of a range of aretaic sentiments and emotional practices organized around disdain and admiration. Answerability is about one’s capacity to govern one’s actions and attitudes by one’s evaluative judgments about the worth of various practical reasons, and it is the target of a range of sentiments and emotional practices organized around regret and pride. Accountability is about one’s ability to regard others, both evaluatively and emotionally, and it is the target of a range of sentiments and emotional practices organized around anger and gratitude. In Part One of the book, this tripartite theory is developed and defended. In Part Two of the book, the tripartite theory’s predictions about specific marginal cases are tested, once certain empirical details about the nature of those agents have been filled in and discussed. (shrink)
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)
Recently, a number of philosophers have begun to question the commonly held view that choice or voluntary control is a precondition of moral responsibility. According to these philosophers, what really matters in determining a person’s responsibility for some thing is whether that thing can be seen as indicative or expressive of her judgments, values, or normative commitments. Such accounts might therefore be understood as updated versions of what Susan Wolf has called “real self views,” insofar as they attempt (...) to ground an agent’s responsibility for her actions and attitudes in the fact (when it is a fact) that they express who she is as a moral agent. As such, they seem to be open to some of the same objections Wolf originally raised to such accounts, and in particular to the objection that they cannot license the sorts of robust moral assessments involved in our current practices of moral responsibility. My aim in this paper is to try to respond to this challenge, by clarifying the kind of robust moral assessments I take to be licensed by (at least some) non-volitional accounts of responsibility and by explaining why these assessments do not in general require the agent to have voluntary control over everything for which she is held responsible. I also argue that the limited applicability of the distinction between “bad agents” and “blameworthy agents” on these accounts is in fact a mark in their favor. (shrink)
My primary target in this paper is a puzzle that emerges from the conjunction of several seemingly innocent assumptions in action theory and the metaphysics of moral responsibility. The puzzle I have in mind is this. On one widely held account of moral responsibility, an agent is morally responsible only for those actions or outcomes over which that agent exercises control. Recently, however, some have cited cases where agents appear to be morally responsible without exercising any control. This (...) leads some to abandon the control-based account of responsibility and replace it with an alternative account. It leads others to deny the intuition that agents are responsible in these troublesome cases. After outlining the account of moral responsibility I have in mind, I look at some of the arguments made against the viability of this theory. I show that there are conceptual resources for salvaging the control account, focusing in particular on the nature of vigilance. I also argue that there is empirical data that supports the control account so conceived. (shrink)
The essay theorizes the responsibilities moral agents may be said to have in relation to global structural social processes that have unjust consequences. How ought moral agents, whether individual or institutional, conceptualize their responsibilities in relation to global injustice? I propose a model of responsibility from social connection as an interpretation of obligations of justice arising from structural social processes. I use the example of justice in transnational processes of production, distribution and marketing of clothing to illustrate operations of (...) structural social processes that extend widely across regions of the world. The social connection model of responsibility says that all agents who contribute by their actions to the structural processes that produce injustice have responsibilities to work to remedy these injustices. I distinguish this model from a more standard model of responsibility, which I call a liability model. I specify five features of the social connection model of responsibility that distinguish it from the liability model: it does not isolate perpetrators; it judges background conditions of action; it is more forward looking than backward looking; its responsibility is essentially shared; and it can be discharged only through collective action. The final section of the essay begins to articulate parameters of reasoning that agents can use for thinking about their own action in relation to structural injustice. a Footnotesa Thanks to David Alexander, Daniel Drezner, David Owen, and Ellen Frankel Paul for comments on an earlier version of this essay. Thanks to David Newstone for research assistance. (shrink)
In this paper, we focus on whether and to what extent we judge that people are responsible for the consequences of their forgetfulness. We ran a series of behavioral studies to measure judgments of responsibility for the consequences of forgetfulness. Our results show that we are disposed to hold others responsible for some of their forgetfulness. The level of stress that the forgetful agent is under modulates judgments of responsibility, though the level of care that the agent exhibits (...) toward performing the forgotten action does not. We argue that this result has important implications for a long-running debate about the nature of responsible agency. (shrink)
Drug use and drug addiction are severely stigmatised around the world. Marc Lewis does not frame his learning model of addiction as a choice model out of concern that to do so further encourages stigma and blame. Yet the evidence in support of a choice model is increasingly strong as well as consonant with core elements of his learning model. I offer a responsibility without blame framework that derives from reflection on forms of clinical practice that support change and (...) recovery in patients who cause harm to themselves and others. This framework can be used to interrogate our own attitudes and responses, so that we can better see how to acknowledge the truth about choice and agency in addiction, while avoiding stigma and blame, and instead maintaining care and compassion alongside a commitment to working for social justice and good. (shrink)
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments offers an account of moral responsibility. It addresses the question: what are the forms of capacity or ability that render us morally accountable for the things we do? A traditional answer has it that the conditions of moral responsibility include freedom of the will, where this in turn involves the availability of robust alternative possibilities. I reject this answer, arguing that the conditions of moral responsibility do not include any condition of (...) alternative possibilities. In the terms that have become familiar, the book thus defends a compatibilist account of moral responsibility. (shrink)
Many assume that we can be responsible only what is voluntary. This leads to puzzlement about our responsibility for our beliefs, since beliefs seem not to be voluntary. I argue against the initial assumption, presenting an account of responsibility and of voluntariness according to which, not only is voluntariness not required for responsibility, but the feature which renders an attitude a fundamental object of responsibility (that the attitude embodies one’s take on the world and one’s place (...) in it) also guarantees that it could not be voluntary. It turns out, then, that, for failing to be voluntary, beliefs are a central example of the sort of thing for which we are most fundamentally responsible. (shrink)
Philosophers have long agreed that moral responsibility might not only have a freedom condition, but also an epistemic condition. Moral responsibility and knowledge interact, but the question is exactly how. Ignorance might constitute an excuse, but the question is exactly when. Surprisingly enough, the epistemic condition has only recently attracted the attention of scholars, and it is high time for a full volume on the topic. The chapters in this volume address the following central questions. Does the epistemic (...) condition require akrasia? Why does blameless ignorance excuse? Does moral ignorance sustained by one’s culture excuse? Does the epistemic condition involve knowledge of the wrongness or wrongmaking features of one’s action? Is the epistemic condition an independent condition, or is it derivative from one’s quality of will or intentions? Is the epistemic condition sensitive to degrees of difficulty? Are there different kinds of moral responsibility and thus multiple epistemic conditions? Is the epistemic condition revisionary? What is the basic structure of the epistemic condition? (shrink)
Traditionally, the manufacturer/operator of a machine is held (morally and legally) responsible for the consequences of its operation. Autonomous, learning machines, based on neural networks, genetic algorithms and agent architectures, create a new situation, where the manufacturer/operator of the machine is in principle not capable of predicting the future machine behaviour any more, and thus cannot be held morally responsible or liable for it. The society must decide between not using this kind of machine any more (which is not a (...) realistic option), or facing a responsibility gap, which cannot be bridged by traditional concepts of responsibility ascription. (shrink)
The Herald of Free Enterprise, a ferry operating in the English Channel, sank on March 6, 1987, drowning nearly two hundred people. The official inquiry found that the company running the ferry was extremely sloppy, with poor routines of checking and management. “From top to bottom the body corporate was infected with the disease of sloppiness.”1 But the courts did not penalize anyone in what might seem to be an appropriate measure, failing to identify individuals in the company or on (...) the ship itself who were seriously enough at fault. As one commentator put it, “The primary requirement of finding an individual who was liable . . . stood in the way of attaching any significance to the organizational sloppiness that had been found by the official inquiry.”2 In a case like this it can make good sense to hold that while the individuals involved may not bear a high degree of personal responsibility, together as a corporate enterprise they should carry full responsibility for what occurred. Although the members may not fully satisfy the conditions for being held personally responsible—although there are mitigating circumstances that excuse them in some mea-. (shrink)
Philosophical views of responsibility often identify responsible agency with capacities like rationality and self-control. Yet in ordinary life, we frequently hold individuals responsible who are deficient in these capacities, such as children or people with mental illness. The existing literature that addresses these cases has suggested that we merely pretend to hold these agents responsible, or that they are responsible to a diminished degree. In this paper, I demonstrate that neither of these approaches is satisfactory, and offer an alternative (...) focused on the role relationships play in determining whether it is appropriate to hold someone responsible. I argue that relationships are sources of normative expectations about how parties in that relationship ought to behave, and that we can be responsible in virtue of being subject to these norms. This is so, not only for those who are impaired or immature, but for all of us. (shrink)
An empirical study of people's intuitions about freedom of the will. We show that people tend to have compatiblist intuitions when they think about the problem in a more concrete, emotional way but that they tend to have incompatiblist intuitions when they think about the problem in a more abstract, cognitive way.
Unwitting omissions pose a challenge for theories of moral responsibility. For commonsense morality holds many unwitting omitters morally responsible for their omissions (and for the consequences thereof), even though they appear to lack both awareness and control. For example, some people who leave dogs trapped in their cars outside on a hot day (see Sher 2009), or who forget to pick something up from the store as they promised (see Clarke 2014) seem to be blameworthy for their omissions. And (...) yet, if moral responsibility requires awareness of one’s omission and of its moral significance, as well as control, then it would appear that the unwitting protagonists of these cases are not, in fact, morally responsible for their omissions. In this paper, we consider, and ultimately reject, a number of influential views that try to solve this problem, including skepticism about responsibility for such omissions, a view we call the “decision tracing” view that grounds responsibility for such omissions in previous exercises of conscious agency, and “attributionist” views that ground responsibility for such omissions in the value judgments or other aspects of the agents’ selves. We propose instead a new tracing view that grounds responsibility for unwitting omissions in past opportunities to avoid them, where having such opportunities requires general awareness of the risk of such an omission, but not an exercise of agency, in contrast to the decision tracing view. We argue that the view can better accommodate cases, and fits well with the most plausible conception of the kind of control required for responsibility. (shrink)
How do people attribute responsibility in situations where the contributions of multiple agents combine to produce a joint outcome? The prevalence of over-determination in such cases makes this a difficult problem for counterfactual theories of causal responsibility. In this article, we explore a general framework for assigning responsibility in multiple agent contexts. We draw on the structural model account of actual causation (e.g., Halpern & Pearl, 2005) and its extension to responsibility judgments (Chockler & Halpern, 2004). (...) We review the main theoretical and empirical issues that arise from this literature and propose a novel model of intuitive judgments of responsibility. This model is a function of both pivotality (whether an agent made a difference to the outcome) and criticality (how important the agent is perceived to be for the outcome, before any actions are taken). The model explains empirical results from previous studies and is supported by a new experiment that manipulates both pivotality and criticality. We also discuss possible extensions of this model to deal with a broader range of causal situations. Overall, our approach emphasizes the close interrelations between causality, counterfactuals, and responsibility attributions. (shrink)
Intentional collective action -- Collective moral responsibility -- Collective guilt -- Individual responsibility for (and in) collective wrongs -- Collective obligation, individual obligation, and individual moral responsibility -- Individual moral responsibility in wrongful social practice.
John Fischer and Mark Ravizza defend in this book a painstakingly constructed analysis of what they take to be a core condition of moral responsibility: the notion of guidance control. The volume usefully collects in one place ideas and arguments the authors have previously published in singly or jointly authored works on this and related topics, as well as various refinements to those views and some suggestive discussions that aim to show how their account of guidance control might fit (...) into a more comprehensive account of moral responsibility. (shrink)
This volume of original essays addresses a range of issues concerning the responsibility individuals have for their actions and for their characters. Among the central questions considered are the following: What scope is there for regarding a person as responsible for his or her character given genetic and environmental factors? Does an account of responsibility provide a legitimate basis for the retributive emotions? Are we ever justified in feeling guilty for occurences over which we have no control? Does (...)responsibility for the consequences of our acts require that they were intended or simply expected? How have a number of influential previous philosophers, including Aristotle, Maimonides, and Spinoza, approached these questions? (shrink)
According to how we treat others, we acquire merit or guilt, deserve praise or blame, and receive reward or punishment, looking in the end for atonement. In this study distinguished theological philosopher Richard Swinburne examines how these moral concepts apply to humans in their dealings with each other, and analyzes these findings, determining which versions of traditional Christian doctrines--sin and original sin, redemption, sanctification, and heaven and hell--are considered morally acceptable.
The basic bearer of responsibility is individuals, because that isall there are – nothing else can literally be the bearer of fullresponsibility. Claims about group responsibility therefore needanalysis. This would be impossible if all actions must be understoodas ones that could be performed whether or not anyone else exists.Individuals often act by virtue of membership in certain groups;often such membership bears a causal role in our behavior, andsometimes people act deliberately in order to promote the prospectsof members of (...) a given group. Nevertheless, it is rational to awardproportionally to individual contributions to those actions andindividual shares in the production of the consequences of thoseactions. (shrink)
Each of the books that Hannah Arendt published in her lifetime was unique, and to this day each continues to provoke fresh thought and interpretations. This was never more true than for Eichmann in Jerusalem, her account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, where she first used the phrase “the banality of evil.” Her consternation over how a man who was neither a monster nor a demon could nevertheless be an agent of the most extreme evil evoked derision, outrage, and (...) misunderstanding. The firestorm of controversy prompted Arendt to readdress fundamental questions and concerns about the nature of evil and the making of moral choices. Responsibility and Judgment gathers together unpublished writings from the last decade of Arendt’s life, as she struggled to explicate the meaning of Eichmann in Jerusalem. At the heart of this book is a profound ethical investigation, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy”; in it Arendt confronts the inadequacy of traditional moral “truths” as standards to judge what we are capable of doing, and she examines anew our ability to distinguish good from evil and right from wrong. We see how Arendt comes to understand that alongside the radical evil she had addressed in earlier analyses of totalitarianism, there exists a more pernicious evil, independent of political ideology, whose execution is limitless when the perpetrator feels no remorse and can forget his acts as soon as they are committed. Responsibility and Judgment is an essential work for understanding Arendt’s conception of morality; it is also an indispensable investigation into some of the most troubling and important issues of our time. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is one of the most prominent concepts in the literature and, in short, indicates the positive impacts of businesses on their stakeholders. Despite the growing body of literature on this concept, the measurement of CSR is still problematic. Although the literature provides several methods for measuring corporate social activities, almost all of them have some limitations. The purpose of this study is to provide an original, valid, and reliable measure of CSR reflecting the responsibilities of (...) a business to various stakeholders. Based on a proposed conceptual framework of CSR, a scale was developed through a systematic scale development process. In the study, exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine the underlying factorial structure of the scale. Data was collected from 269 business professionals working in Turkey. The results of the analysis provided a four-dimensional structure of CSR, including CSR to social and nonsocial stakeholders, employees, customers, and government. (shrink)
Under what conditions are people responsible for their choices and the outcomes of those choices? How could such conditions be fostered by liberal societies? Should what people are due as a matter of justice depend on what they are responsible for? For example, how far should healthcare provision depend on patients' past choices? What values would be realized and which hampered by making justice sensitive to responsibility? Would it give people what they deserve? Would it advance or hinder equality? (...) The explosion of philosophical interest in such questions has been fuelled by increased focus on individual responsibility in political debates. Political philosophers, especially egalitarians, have responded to such developments by attempting to map out the proper place for responsibility in theories of justice. This book both reflects on these recent developments in normative political theory and moves the debate forwards. (shrink)
What is a fair distribution of resources and other goods when individuals are partly responsible for their achievements? This book develops a theory of fairness incorporating a concern for personal responsibility, opportunities and freedom. With a critical perspective, it makes accessible the recent developments in economics and philosophy that define social justice in terms of equal opportunities. It also proposes new perspectives and original ideas. The book separates mathematical sections from the rest of the text, so that the main (...) concepts and ideas are easily accessible to non-technical readers. -/- It is often thought that responsibility is a complex notion, but this monograph proposes a simple analytical framework that makes it possible to disentangle the different concepts of fairness that deal with neutralizing inequalities for which the individuals are not held responsible, rewarding their effort, respecting their choices, or staying neutral with respect to their responsibility sphere. It dwells on paradoxes and impossibilities only as a way to highlight important ethical options and always proposes solutions and reasonable compromises among the conflicting values surrounding equality and responsibility. -/- The theory is able to incorporate disincentive problems and is illustrated in the examination of applied policy issues such as: income redistribution when individuals may be held responsible for their choices of labor supply or education; social and private insurance when individuals may be held responsible for their risky lifestyle; second chance policies; the measurement of inequality of opportunities and social mobility. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIt has recently become fashionable among those who write on questions of moral responsibility to distinguish two different concepts, or senses, of moral responsibility via the labels ‘responsibility as attributability’ and ‘responsibility as accountability’. Gary Watson was perhaps the first to introduce this distinction in his influential 1996 article ‘Two Faces of Responsibility’ , but it has since been taken up by many other philosophers. My aim in this study is to raise some questions and (...) doubts about this distinction and to argue that it has led to confusion rather than clarification in debates over moral responsibility. In place of the attributability/accountability distinction, I propose that there is a single concept of moral responsibility underlying our actual moral practices. This core notion of moral responsibility, which I call ‘responsibility as answerability’, is well positioned to explain thos.. (shrink)
Responsibility is a key concept in our moral, social, and political thinking, but it is not itself properly understood. J.R. Lucas here presents a lively, broad, and accessible discussion of responsibility in various areas of human life, from personal and sexual relations to politics.
Many people believe that for someone to now be responsible for some past action, the agent of that action and the responsible agent now must be one and the same person. In other words, many people that moral responsibility presupposes numerical personal identity. In this paper, I show why this platitude is false. I then suggest an account of what actual metaphysical relationship moral responsibility presupposes instead.
We are strongly inclined to believe in moral responsibility - the idea that certain human agents truly deserve moral praise or blame for some of their actions. However, recent philosophical discussion has put this natural belief under suspicion, and there are important reasons for thinking that moral responsibility is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, therefore potentially rendering it an impossibility. Presenting the major arguments for scepticism about moral responsibility, and subjecting them to sustained and penetrating critical (...) analysis, _Moral Responsibility_ lays out the intricate dialectic involved in these issues in a helpful and accessible way. A well-written and lively account, the book then goes on to suggest a way in which scepticism can be avoided, arguing that excessive pre-eminence given to the will might lie at its root. Offering an alternative to this scepticism, Carlos Moya shows how a cognitive approach to moral responsibility that stresses the importance of belief would rescue our natural and centrally important faith in the reality of moral responsibility. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a challenge for Michael McKenna’s conversational theory of moral responsibility. On his view, to be a responsible agent is to be able to engage in a type of moral conversation. I argue that individuals with autism spectrum disorder present a considerable problem for the conversational theory because empirical evidence on the disorder seems to suggest that there are individuals in the world who meet all of the conditions for responsible agency that the theory lays (...) out but who are nevertheless not responsible agents. Attending to the moral psychology of such individuals will, I think, help shed light on an important gap in the conversational theory. (shrink)
This book provides a systematic, philosophically informed account of criminal responsibility. It begins by providing a general account of criminal responsibility based on the relationship between the action that the defendent has performed and their character. It then moves on to reconsider some of the central doctrines of criminal responsibility in the light of that account.
Typical incompatibilists about moral responsibility and determinism contend that being basically morally responsible for a decision one makes requires that, if that decision has proximal causes, it is not deterministically caused by them. This article develops a problem for this contention that resembles what is sometimes called the problem of present (or cross-world) luck. However, the problem makes no reference to luck nor to contrastive explanation. This article also develops a solution.
Manipulation arguments for incompatibilism all build upon some example or other in which an agent is covertly manipulated into acquiring a psychic structure on the basis of which she performs an action. The featured agent, it is alleged, is manipulated into satisfying conditions compatibilists would take to be sufficient for acting freely. Such an example used in the context of an argument for incompatibilism is meant to elicit the intuition that, due to the pervasiveness of the manipulation, the agent does (...) not act freely and is not morally responsible for what she does. It is then claimed that any agent's coming to be in the same psychic state through a deterministic process is no different in any relevant respect from the pertinent manner of manipulation. Hence, it is concluded that compatibilists' proposed sufficient conditions for free will and moral responsibility are inadequate, and that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. One way for compatibilists to resist certain manipulation arguments is by appealing to historical requirements that, they contend, relevant manipulated agents lack. While a growing number of compatibilists advance an historical thesis, in this paper, I redouble my efforts to show, in defense of nonhistorical compatibilists like Harry Frankfurt, that there is still life left in a nonhistorical view. The historical compatibilists, I contend, have fallen shy of discrediting their nonhistorical compatibilist rivals. (shrink)
This paper argues against incorporating assessments of individual responsibility into healthcare policies by expanding an existing argument and offering a rebuttal to an argument in favour of such policies. First, it is argued that what primarily underlies discussions surrounding personal responsibility and healthcare is not causal responsibility, moral responsibility or culpability, as one might expect, but biases towards particular highly stigmatised behaviours. A challenge is posed for proponents of taking personal responsibility into account within health (...) policy to either expand the debate to also include socially accepted behaviours or to provide an alternative explanation of the narrowly focused discussion. Second, a critical response is offered to arguments that claim that policies based on personal responsibility would lead to several positive outcomes including healthy behaviour change, better health outcomes and decreases in healthcare spending. It is argued that using individual responsibility as a basis for resource allocation in healthcare is unlikely to motivate positive behaviour changes, and is likely to increase inequality which may lead to worse health outcomes overall. Finally, the case of West Virginia's Medicaid reform is examined, which raises a worry that policies focused on personal responsibility have the potential to lead to increases in medical spending overall. (shrink)
Many philosophers endorse the idea that there can be no moral responsibility without a moral community and thus hold that such responsibility is essentially interpersonal. In this paper, various interpretations of this idea are distinguished, and it is argued that no interpretation of it captures a significant truth. The popular view that moral responsibility consists in answerability is discussed and dismissed. The even more popular view that such responsibility consists in susceptibility to the reactive attitudes is (...) also discussed, and it is argued that this view at best supports only an etiolated interpretation of the idea that moral responsibility is essentially interpersonal. (shrink)
The question of the psychopath's responsibility for his or her wrongdoing has received considerable attention. Much of this attention has been directed toward whether psychopaths are a counterexample to motivational internalism (MI): Do they possess normal moral beliefs, which fail to motivate them? In this paper, I argue that this is a question that remains conceptually and empirically intractable, and that we ought to settle the psychopath's responsibility in some other way. I argue that recent empirical work on (...) the moral judgments of psychopaths provides us with good reason to think that they are not fully responsible agents, because their actions cannot express the kinds of ill-will toward others that grounds attributions of distinctively moral responsibility. I defend this view against objections, especially those due to an influential account of moral responsibility that holds that moral knowledge is not necessary for responsibility. (shrink)
In recent years, reﬂection on the relationship between individual moral responsibility and determinism has undergone a remarkable renaissance. Incompatibilists, those who believe moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism, have offered powerful new arguments in support of their views. Compatibilists, those who think moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, have responded with ingenious counterexamples and alternative accounts of responsibility. Despite the admirable elevation of complexity and subtlety within both camps, the trajectory of the literature is somewhat discouraging. (...) Every dialectical stalemate between incompatibilists and compatibilists seems to be superseded by a similar though often more subtle stalemate.1 The stalemates have two sources. On the one hand, incompatibilists again and again ﬁnd powerful intuitive support from our folk concept. On the other hand, compatibilists seem right to insist that even if determinism were true, this would not mitigate our need for a concept of responsibility. (shrink)
Compatibilists about determinism and moral responsibility disagree with one another about the bearing of agents’ histories on whether or not they are morally responsible for some of their actions. Some stories about manipulated agents prompt such disagreements. In this article, I call attention to some of the main features of my own “history-sensitive” compatibilist proposal about moral responsibility, and I argue that arguments advanced by Michael McKenna and Manuel Vargas leave that proposal unscathed.
Our aim in this paper is to raise a question about the relationship between theories of responsibility, on the one hand, and a commitment to conscious attitudes, on the other. Our question has rarely been raised previously. Among those who believe in the reality of human freedom, compatibilists have traditionally devoted their energies to providing an account that can avoid any commitment to the falsity of determinism while successfully accommodating a range of intuitive examples. Libertarians, in contrast, have aimed (...) to show that either physical indeterminacy or a certain kind of agent causation can find a place in the world for what they take to be genuine freedom. Few have considered whether moral responsibility requires a commitment to conscious attitudes.2 Our question derives from a confluence of two sources. First, there is reason to think that conscious attitudes matter to theories of responsibility, either directly, as a result of the latter’s commitments, or indirectly, by virtue of the assumptions that they make about certain intuitive examples. Second, there is accumulating evidence suggesting that there aren’t any conscious mental states possessing the sorts of causal roles required of propositional attitudes. Since theorists of responsibility should in general be concerned to make their views compatible with plausible claims about the natural world, the implications of this data should be carefully considered. Our aim is therefore to motivate and begin exploring answers to the following conditional question: If it should turn out that there are no conscious attitudes, then what would be the implications of this fact (if any) for theories of responsibility? We propose that theorists who aren’t skeptics about moral responsibility should examine their accounts, asking whether their theories (or the examples that motivate them) could survive the discovery that there are no conscious judgments, decisions, or evaluations. Since we take it that moral theorizing in general should operate with the weakest possible empirical assumptions about the natural world, such theorists should consider whether their accounts could be motivated in such a way as to be free of any commitment to the existence of conscious attitudes.. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine whether agents who commit testimonial injustice are morally responsible for their wrongdoing, given that they are ignorant of their wrongdoing. Fricker (2007) argues that agents whose social setting lacks the concepts or reasons necessary for them to correct for testimonial injustice are excused. I argue that agents whose social settings have these concepts or reasons available are also typically excused, because they lack the capacity to recognise those concepts or reasons. Attempts to trace this lack (...) of capacity back to an earlier culpable wrongdoing will often fail, due to there being no point at which these perpetrators knowingly chose to develop their prejudices. Attempts to ground culpability under Talbert’s (2008) Attributionist account of moral responsibility will also fail. This is because perpetrators’ lack of awareness of what they are doing makes it the case that they are not expressing objectionable evaluative judgments in the way required for blameworthiness. Finally, I argue that our temptation to blame agents who commit testimonial injustice is not completely unfounded. Appealing to Watson’s (1996) attributability/accountability distinction allows us to make sense of how some responses to the jurors are appropriate, despite their being excused. (shrink)
In the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the ‘desert-entailing sense’. Despite this agreement, little has been said about the notion of desert that is supposedly entailed. In this paper I propose an understanding of desert sufficient to help explain why the blameworthy and praiseworthy deserve blame and praise, respectively. I do so by drawing upon what might seem an unusual resource. I appeal to so-called Fitting-Attitude accounts of value to (...) help inform a conception of desert or merit, one that can be usefully applied to discussions of moral responsibility. I argue that the view, which I call, Desert as Fittingness (DAF), merits additional attention. I do so by making two claims: First, that it does better than extant Fitting Attitude accounts of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness; second, that it has an initial plausibility with respect to informing a general account of desert. While these reasons are insufficient to show the view is true, they do make the case for taking the view seriously. (shrink)