Blame, Reasons and Capacities

  • Rosemary LowryEmail author
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 27)


It is usually agreed that we must recognise that responsibility (in the sense of blameworthiness) comes in degrees if we are to accurately reflect the moral landscape of people’s actions. In this paper I develop this view by constructing a framework which will allow us to determine the degree to which an agent is blameworthy for failing to act. This framework accommodates the close connection between an agent’s blameworthiness and her reasons, which I argue should lead us to see reasons as coming in degrees. The view that reasons come in degrees is justified on the basis of two claims: first, reasons are constrained by what it is possible for the agent to do, and second, it may be possible to some degree for an agent to do something. I conclude the paper by demonstrating how this framework can be used to justify claims about the degree to which an agent has a reason, and the degree to which an agent can be blameworthy in a given case.


Actual World Reason Condition Rational Capacity Intrinsic Quality Close World 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands

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