Blame it on me


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.


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Correspondence to Lambèr Royakkers.

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Royakkers, L., Hughes, J. Blame it on me. J Philos Logic 49, 315–349 (2020).

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  • Responsibility
  • Coalition epistemic logic
  • Problem of many hands
  • Collective agency