Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 167–181 | Cite as

Culpability and Irresponsibility

Original Paper


I defend the principle that a person is blameworthy (or culpable) for her action only if that action was morally wrong. But what should we say about an agent who does the right thing based on bad motives? I present three types of cases that have these features. In each, I argue, the agent is not culpable for her action; however, she violates the norm of moral responsibility, and thus acts in a morally irresponsible way. This analysis, I show, has several virtues. It also has important theoretical ramifications: it allows for a more nuanced approach to moral luck and paves the way for an unexplored line of defense in favor of a particular norm of moral responsibility.


Moral responsibility Culpability Blameworthiness Wrongdoing Moral luck 



I am grateful to anonymous referees for this journal for their valuable comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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