Blame it on me

  • Lambèr RoyakkersEmail author
  • Jesse Hughes
Open Access


In this paper, we develop a formalisation of the main ideas of the work of Van de Poel on responsibility. Using the basic concepts through which the meanings of responsibility are defined, we construct a logic which enables to express sentences like “individual i is accountable for φ”, “individual i is blameworthy for φ” and “individual i has the obligation to see to it that φ”. This formalization clarifies the definitions of responsibility given by Van de Poel and highlights their differences and similarities. It also helps to assess the consistency of the formalisation of responsibility, not only by showing that definitions are not inconsistent, but also by providing a formal demonstration of the relation between three main meanings of responsibility (accountability, blameworthiness, and obligation). The formal account can be used to derive new properties of the concepts. With the help of the formalisation, we detect the occurrence of the problem of many hands (PMH) by defining a logical framework for reasoning about collective and individual responsibility. This logic extends the Coalition Epistemic Dynamic Logic (CEDL) by adding a notion of group knowledge (and generalize the definitions of individual responsibility to groups of agents), agent ability and knowing how to its semantics.


Responsibility Coalition epistemic logic Problem of many hands Collective agency 



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Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Innovation SciencesEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Philosophy DepartmentBentley UniversityWalthamUSA

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