The objects of moral responsibility

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Abstract

It typically taken for granted that agents can be morally responsible for such things as, for example, the death of the victim and the capture of the murderer in the sense that one may be blameworthy or praiseworthy for such things. The primary task of a theory of moral responsibility, it is thought, is to specify the appropriate relationship one must stand to such things in order to be morally responsible for them. I argue that this common approach is problematic because it attempts to explain the way in which an agent can be morally responsible for something that is external to her, the agent. Since, I argue, everything that matters for moral responsibility is internal to the agent, the accounts that emerge from this approach are committed to a particular form of moral luck. Instead, we should reject this form of moral luck, and with it, the possibility of moral responsibility for objects external to the agent. We are, I argue, morally responsible only for our inner willings. Thus, a form of internalism about moral responsibility is defended.

Keywords

Action Blameworthiness Moral luck Moral responsibility  Quality of will Volition 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For helpful discussion and comments, I thank Cheshire Calhoun, Parker Crutchfield, Peter Dennis, Ian Evans, Peter French, Robert Hartman, Benjamin Matheson, Emily McTernan, Douglas Portmore, an audience at the London School of Economics where an earlier version of this paper was presented, and several anonymous referees.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious StudiesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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