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Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility

Oxford University Press (2011)

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  1. Moral Luck and the Unfairness of Morality.Robert J. Hartman - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3179-3197.
    Moral luck occurs when factors beyond an agent’s control positively affect how much praise or blame she deserves. Kinds of moral luck are differentiated by the source of lack of control such as the results of her actions, the circumstances in which she finds herself, and the way in which she is constituted. Many philosophers accept the existence of some of these kinds of moral luck but not others, because, in their view, the existence of only some of them would (...)
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  • Downward Causation and Supervenience: The Non-Reductionist’s Extra Argument for Incompatibilism.Joana Rigato - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (3):384-399.
    Agent-causal theories of free will, which rely on a non-reductionist account of the agent, have traditionally been associated with libertarianism. However, some authors have recently argued in favor of compatibilist agent-causal accounts. In this essay, I will show that such accounts cannot avoid serious problems of implausibility or incoherence. A careful analysis of the implications of non-reductionist views of the agent (event-causal or agent-causal as they may be) reveals that such views necessarily imply either the denial of the principle of (...)
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  • Towards a Structural Ownership Condition on Moral Responsibility.Benjamin Matheson - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (4):458-480.
    In this paper, I propose and defend a structural ownership condition on moral responsibility. According to the condition I propose, an agent owns a mental item if and only if it is part of or is partly grounded by a coherent set of psychological states. As I discuss, other theorists have proposed or alluded to conditions like psychological coherence, but each proposal is unsatisfactory in some way. My account appeals to narrative explanation to elucidate the relevant sense of psychological coherence.
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  • If Anyone Should Be an Agent-Causalist, Then Everyone Should Be an Agent-Causalist.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2016 - Mind 125 (500):1101-1131.
    Nearly all defences of the agent-causal theory of free will portray the theory as a distinctively libertarian one — a theory that only libertarians have reason to accept. According to what I call ‘the standard argument for the agent-causal theory of free will’, the reason to embrace agent-causal libertarianism is that libertarians can solve the problem of enhanced control only if they furnish agents with the agent-causal power. In this way it is assumed that there is only reason to accept (...)
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  • Good Selves, True Selves: Moral Ignorance, Responsibility, And The Presumption Of Goodness.David Faraci & David Shoemaker - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):606-622.
    According to the Good True Self (GTS) theory, if an action is deemed good, its psychological source is typically viewed as more reflective of its agent’s true self, of who the agent really is ‘deep down inside’; if the action is deemed bad, its psychological source is typically viewed as more external to its agent’s true self. In previous work, we discovered a related asymmetry in judgments of blame- and praiseworthiness with respect to the mitigating effect of moral ignorance via (...)
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  • Alternative Possibilities and Causal Overdetermination.Ferenc Huoranszki - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (45):193-217.
    This paper argues against dismissing the Principle of Alternative Possibilities merely on the ground of so-called Frankfurt-style cases. Its main claims are that the interpretation of such cases depends on which substantive theory of responsibility one endorses and that Frankfurt-style cases all involve some form of causal overdetermination which can be interpreted either as being compatible with the potentially manipulated agent’s ability to act otherwise or as a responsibility undermining constraint. The paper also argues that the possibility of such scenarios (...)
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  • When Do Circumstances Excuse? Moral Prejudices and Beliefs About the True Self Drive Preferences for Agency-Minimizing Explanations.Simon Cullen - 2018 - Cognition 180:165-181.
    When explaining human actions, people usually focus on a small subset of potential causes. What leads us to prefer certain explanations for valenced actions over others? The present studies indicate that our moral attitudes often predict our explanatory preferences far better than our beliefs about how causally sensitive actions are to features of the actor's environment. Study 1 found that high-prejudice participants were much more likely to endorse non-agential explanations of an erotic same-sex encounter, such as that one of the (...)
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  • Agent Causation as a Solution to the Problem of Action.Michael Brent - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (5):656-673.
    My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most theories of (...)
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  • The 'Ought' and the 'Can'.Katerina Deligiorgi - 2018 - Con-Textos Kantianos 8:324-347.
    Kant's conception of autonomy presents the following problem. If, following Kant's explicit lead, we consider autonomy as the universal principle of morality and ground of the actions of rational beings (e.g. G 4:452), then self-legislation is best understood as a prescription by reason to itself. Applied to individual cases of willing, the term 'autonomy' describes the bringing of a set of practical attitudes under rational legislation. Agents may count as autonomous then, insofar as and only to the extent that they (...)
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  • Being More Blameworthy.D. Justin Coates - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (3):233-246.
    In this paper I explore graded attributions of blameworthiness—that is, judgments of the general sort, "A is more blameworthy for x-ing than B is," or "A is less blameworthy for her character than B is." In so doing, I aim to provide a philosophical basis for the widespread, if not completely articulate, practice of altering the degree to which we hold others responsible on the basis of facts about them or facts about their environments. To vindicate this practice, I disambiguate (...)
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  • Resisting Tracing's Siren Song.Craig Agule - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (1):1-24.
    Drunk drivers and other culpably incapacitated wrongdoers are often taken to pose a problem for reasons-responsiveness accounts of moral responsibility. These accounts predicate moral responsibility upon an agent having the capacities to perceive and act upon moral reasons, and the culpably incapacitated wrongdoers lack exactly those capacities at the time of their wrongdoing. Many reasons-responsiveness advocates thus expand their account of responsibility to include a tracing condition: The culpably incapacitated wrongdoer is blameworthy despite his incapacitation precisely because he is responsible (...)
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  • Strawson, Moral Responsibility, and the "Order of Explanation": An Intervention.Patrick Todd - 2016 - Ethics 127 (1):208-240.
    P.F. Strawson’s (1962) “Freedom and Resentment” has provoked a wide range of responses, both positive and negative, and an equally wide range of interpretations. In particular, beginning with Gary Watson, some have seen Strawson as suggesting a point about the “order of explanation” concerning moral responsibility: it is not that it is appropriate to hold agents responsible because they are morally responsible, rather, it is ... well, something else. Such claims are often developed in different ways, but one thing remains (...)
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  • Responsibility.Neal A. Tognazzini - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 4592-4602.
    In this encyclopedia entry I sketch the way contemporary theorists understand moral responsibility -- its varieties, its requirements, and its puzzles.
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  • Blocking Blockage.Ken Levy - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (2):565-583.
    The Blockage Argument is designed to improve upon Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities by removing the counterfactual intervener altogether. If the argument worked, then it would prove in a way that Frankfurt’s argument does not that moral responsibility does not require any alternative possibilities whatsoever, not even the weakest “flicker of freedom”. -/- Some philosophers have rejected the Blockage Argument solely on the basis of their intuition that the inability to do otherwise is incompatible with (...)
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  • Free Will as a Psychological Accomplishment.Eddy Nahmias - 2016 - In David Schmidtz & Carmen Pavel (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Freedom. Oxford University Press.
    I offer analyses of free will in terms of a complex set of psychological capacities agents possess to varying degrees and have varying degrees of opportunities to exercise effectively, focusing on the under-appreciated but essential capacities for imagination. For an agent to have free will is for her to possess the psychological capacities to make decisions—to imagine alternatives for action, to select among them, and to control her actions accordingly—such that she is the author of her actions and can deserve (...)
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  • Traditional Compatibilism Reformulated and Defended.Markus E. Schlosser - 2017 - Journal of Philosophical Research 42:277-300.
    Traditional compatibilism about free will is widely considered to be untenable. In particular, the conditional analysis of the ability to do otherwise appears to be subject to clear counterexamples. I will propose a new version of traditional compatibilism that provides a conditional account of both the ability to do otherwise and the ability to choose to do otherwise, and I will argue that this view withstands the standard objections to traditional compatibilism. For this, I will assume with incompatibilists that the (...)
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  • Corporate Crocodile Tears? On the Reactive Attitudes of Corporate Agents.Gunnar Björnsson & Kendy Hess - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):273–298.
    Recently, a number of people have argued that certain entities embodied by groups of agents themselves qualify as agents, with their own beliefs, desires, and intentions; even, some claim, as moral agents. However, others have independently argued that fully-fledged moral agency involves a capacity for reactive attitudes such as guilt and indignation, and these capacities might seem beyond the ken of “collective” or “ corporate ” agents. Individuals embodying such agents can of course be ashamed, proud, or indignant about what (...)
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  • Ought, Can, and Presupposition: An Experimental Study.Moti Mizrahi - 2015 - Methode 4 (6):232-243.
    In this paper, I present the results of an experimental study on intuitions about moral obligation (ought) and ability (can). Many philosophers accept as an axiom the principle known as “Ought Implies Can” (OIC). If the truth of OIC is intuitive, such that it is accepted by many philosophers as an axiom, then we would expect people to judge that agents who are unable to perform an action are not morally obligated to perform that action. The results of my experimental (...)
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  • Aquinas on Free Will and Intellectual Determinism.Tobias Hoffmann & Cyrille Michon - 2017 - Philosophers' Imprint 17.
    From the early reception of Thomas Aquinas up to the present, many have interpreted his theory of liberum arbitrium to imply intellectual determinism: we do not control our choices, because we do not control the practical judgments that cause our choices. In this paper we argue instead that he rejects determinism in general and intellectual determinism in particular, which would effectively destroy liberum arbitrium as he conceives of it. We clarify that for Aquinas moral responsibility presupposes liberum arbitrium and thus (...)
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  • Blameworthiness as Deserved Guilt.Andreas Carlsson - 2017 - The Journal of Ethics 21 (1):89-115.
    It is often assumed that we are only blameworthy for that over which we have control. In recent years, however, several philosophers have argued that we can be blameworthy for occurrences that appear to be outside our control, such as attitudes, beliefs and omissions. This has prompted the question of why control should be a condition on blameworthiness. This paper aims at defending the control condition by developing a new conception of blameworthiness: To be blameworthy, I argue, is most fundamentally (...)
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  • Three Recent Frankfurt Cases.Robert Lockie - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (4):1005-1032.
    Three recent ‘state of the art’ Frankfurt cases are responded to: Widerker’s Brain-Malfunction-W case and Pereboom’s Tax Evasion cases (2 & 3). These cases are intended by their authors to resurrect the neo-Frankfurt project of overturning the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) in the teeth of the widespread acceptance of some combination of the WKG (Widerker-Kane-Ginet) dilemma, the Flicker of Freedom strategy and the revised PAP response (‘Principle of Alternative Blame’, ‘Principle of Alternative Expectations’). The three neo-Frankfurt cases of Pereboom (...)
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  • Legal Agreements and the Capacities of Agents.Andrei Buckareff - 2014 - In Law and the Philosophy of Action. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 195-219.
    Most work at the intersection of law and the philosophy of action focuses on criminal responsibility. Unfortunately, this focus has been at the expense of reflecting on how the philosophy of action might help illuminate our understanding of issues in civil law. In this essay, focusing on Anglo-American jurisprudence, we examine the conditions under which a party to a legal agreement is deemed to have the capacity required to be bound by that agreement. We refer to this condition as the (...)
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  • The Manipulation Argument, At the Very Least, Undermines Classical Compatibilism.Yishai Cohen - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (2):291-307.
    The compatibility of determinism and the ability to do otherwise has been implicitly assumed by many to be irrelevant to the viability of compatibilist responses to the manipulation argument for incompatibilism. I argue that this assumption is mistaken. The manipulation argument may be unsound. But even so, the manipulation argument, at the very least, undermines classical compatibilism, the view that free will requires the ability to do otherwise, and having that ability is compatible with determinism. This is because classical compatibilism, (...)
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  • Counterfactuals of Divine Freedom.Yishai Cohen - 2016 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79 (3):185-205.
    Contrary to the commonly held position of Luis de Molina, Thomas Flint and others, I argue that counterfactuals of divine freedom are pre-volitional for God within the Molinist framework. That is, CDFs are not true even partly in virtue of some act of God’s will. As a result, I argue that the Molinist God fails to satisfy an epistemic openness requirement for rational deliberation, and thus she cannot rationally deliberate about which world to actualize.
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  • Deliberating in the Presence of Manipulation.Yishai Cohen - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (1):85-105.
    According to deliberation compatibilism, rational deliberation is compatible with the belief that one’s actions are causally determined by factors beyond one’s control. This paper offers a counterexample to recent accounts of rational deliberation that entail deliberation compatibilism. The counterexample involves a deliberator who believes that whichever action she performs will be the result of deterministic manipulation. It is further argued that there is no relevant difference between the purported counterexample and ordinary doxastic circumstances in which a determinist deliberates.
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  • Indirectly Free Actions, Libertarianism, and Resultant Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    Martin Luther affirms his theological position by saying “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Supposing that Luther’s claim is true, he lacks alternative possibilities at the moment of choice. Even so, many libertarians have the intuition that he is morally responsible for his action. One way to make sense of this intuition is to assert that Luther’s action is indirectly free, because his action inherits its freedom and moral responsibility from earlier actions when he had alternative possibilities and (...)
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  • Vigilance and Control.Samuel Murray & Manuel Vargas - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    We sometimes fail unwittingly to do things that we ought to do. And we are, from time to time, culpable for these unwitting omissions. We provide an outline of a theory of responsibility for unwitting omissions. We emphasize two distinctive ideas: (i) many unwitting omissions can be understood as failures of appropriate vigilance, and; (ii) the sort of self-control implicated in these failures of appropriate vigilance is valuable. We argue that the norms that govern vigilance and the value of self-control (...)
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  • Helping It.H. C. Steward - unknown
    There is a long-standing debate in the literature on moral responsibility about the general idea that there is some sort of control condition on our assignment of blameworthiness to agents. In this paper, I try to defend the claims of a very ordinary, everyday locution to offer the best means of formulating a version of the control principle that stands some chance of fitting with our ethical intuitions. The locution whose merits I champion is the ‘can’t help it’ locution, as (...)
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  • How is Self-Forgiveness Possible?Per-Erik Milam - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (1).
    The idea of self-forgiveness poses a serious challenge to any philosopher interested in giving a general account of forgiveness. On the one hand, it is an uncontroversial part of our common psychological and moral discourse. On the other, any account of self-forgiveness is inconsistent with any general account of forgiveness which implies that only the victim of an offense can forgive. To avoid this conclusion, one must either challenge the particular claims that preclude self-forgiveness or offer an independently plausible account (...)
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  • Conscious Will, Reason-Responsiveness, and Moral Responsibility.Markus E. Schlosser - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (3):205-232.
    Empirical evidence challenges many of the assumptions that underlie traditional philosophical and commonsense conceptions of human agency. It has been suggested that this evidence threatens also to undermine free will and moral responsibility. In this paper, I will focus on the purported threat to moral responsibility. The evidence challenges assumptions concerning the ability to exercise conscious control and to act for reasons. This raises an apparent challenge to moral responsibility as these abilities appear to be necessary for morally responsible agency. (...)
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  • Regulation Enables: Corporate Agency and Practices of Responsibility.Garrath Williams - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4):989-1002.
    Both advocates of corporate regulation and its opponents tend to depict regulation as restrictive—a policy option that limits freedom in the name of welfare or other social goods. Against this framing, I suggest we can understand regulation in enabling terms. If well designed and properly enforced, regulation enables companies to operate in ways that are acceptable to society as a whole. This paper argues for this enabling character by considering some wider questions about responsibility and the sharing of responsibility. Agents (...)
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  • Moral Responsibility Without General Ability.Taylor W. Cyr & Philip Swenson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):22-40.
    It is widely thought that, to be morally responsible for some action or omission, an agent must have had, at the very least, the general ability to do otherwise. As we argue, however, there are counterexamples to the claim that moral responsibility requires the general ability to do otherwise. We present several cases in which agents lack the general ability to do otherwise and yet are intuitively morally responsible for what they do, and we argue that such cases raise problems (...)
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  • Shame and Attributability.Andreas Brekke Carlsson - forthcoming - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, vol. 6.
    Responsibility as accountability is normally taken to have stricter control conditions than responsibility as attributability. A common way to argue for this claim is to point to differences in the harmfulness of blame involved in these different kinds of responsibility. This paper argues that this explanation does not work once we shift our focus from other-directed blame to self-blame. To blame oneself in the accountability sense is to feel guilt and feeling guilty is to suffer. To blame oneself in the (...)
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  • “Ought” Implies “Can” but Does Not Imply “Must”: An Asymmetry Between Becoming Infeasible and Becoming Overridden.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):487-514.
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  • Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?Michael McKenna & Brandon Warmke - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (6):698-733.
    The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will (...)
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  • Responsibility and the Limits of Conversation.Manuel R. Vargas - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (2):221-240.
    Both legal and moral theorists have offered broadly “communicative” theories of criminal and moral responsibility. According to such accounts, we can understand the nature of responsibility by appealing to the idea that responsibility practices are in some fundamental sense expressive, discursive, or communicative. In this essay, I consider a variety of issues in connections with this family of views, including its relationship to free will, the theory of exemptions, and potential alternatives to the communicative model. Focusing on Michael McKenna’s Conversation (...)
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  • Source Compatibilism and That Pesky Ability to Do Otherwise: Comments on Dana Nelkin’s Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility. [REVIEW]Michael McKenna - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):105-116.
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  • Moral Responsibility and Merit.Matt King - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (2):1-18.
    In the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the ‘desert-entailing sense’. Despite this agreement, little has been said about the notion of desert that is supposedly entailed. In this paper I propose an understanding of desert sufficient to help explain why the blameworthy and praiseworthy deserve blame and praise, respectively. I do so by drawing upon what might seem an unusual resource. I appeal to so-called Fitting-Attitude accounts of value to help inform (...)
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  • Blameworthiness and the Affective Account of Blame.Neal A. Tognazzini - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (4):1299-1312.
    One of the most influential accounts of blame—the affective account—takes its cue from P.F. Strawson’s discussion of the reactive attitudes. To blame someone, on this account, is to target her with resentment, indignation, or (in the case of self-blame) guilt. Given the connection between these emotions and the demand for regard that is arguably central to morality, the affective account is quite plausible. Recently, however, George Sher has argued that the affective account of blame, as understood both by Strawson himself (...)
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  • Frankfurt Examples, Derivative Responsibility, and the Timing Objection1.Derk Pereboom - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):298-315.
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  • Difficulty and Degrees of Moral Praiseworthiness and Blameworthiness.Dana Kay Nelkin - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):356-378.
    In everyday life, we assume that there are degrees of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. Yet the debate about the nature of moral responsibility often focuses on the “yes or no” question of whether indeterminism is required for moral responsibility, while questions about what accounts for more or less blameworthiness or praiseworthiness are underexplored. In this paper, I defend the idea that degrees of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness can depend in part on degrees of difficulty and degrees of sacrifice required for performing the (...)
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  • Everyone Thinks That an Ability to Do Otherwise is Necessary for Free Will and Moral Responsibility.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2091-2107.
    Seemingly one of the most prominent issues that divide theorists about free will and moral responsibility concerns whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. I defend two claims in this paper. First, that this appearance is illusory: everyone thinks an ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. The central issue is not whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility but which abilities to do otherwise are necessary. Second, (...)
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  • Rational Abilities and Responsibility.Laura W. Ekstrom - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):459-466.
    For a symposium on Dana Nelkin's Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility.
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  • Semicompatibilism and Its Rivals.John Martin Fischer - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (2):117-143.
    In this paper I give an overview of my “framework for moral responsibility,” and I offer some reasons that commend it. I contrast my approach with indeterministic models of moral responsibility and also other compatibilist strategies, including those of Harry Frankfurt and Gary Watson.
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  • Replies to Critics.Dana Kay Nelkin - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):476-491.
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  • Powers, Laws and Freedom of the Will.Derk Pereboom - 2014 - Metascience 23 (3):491-495.
    Laws, Mind, and Free Will is a highly valuable book for anyone interested in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, or in the problem of free will and moral responsibility. The book has three distinct but related parts. The first presents an anti-empiricist position on the laws of nature, according to which the point of the laws is not primarily to predict kinematic outcomes, but rather to characterize dynamics. One upshot of the account is that the laws have an attenuated (...)
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  • Two Faces of Desert.Matt King - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (3):401-424.
    There are two broadly competing pictures of moral responsibility. On the view I favor, to be responsible for some action is to be related to it in such a way that licenses attributing certain properties to the agent, properties like blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. Responsibility is attributability. A different view understands being responsible in terms of our practices of holding each other responsible. Responsibility is accountability, which “involves a social setting in which we demand (require) certain conduct from one another and (...)
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  • Self-Expression: A Deep Self Theory of Moral Responsibility.Chandra Sripada - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1203-1232.
    According to Dewey, we are responsible for our conduct because it is “ourselves objectified in action”. This idea lies at the heart of an increasingly influential deep self approach to moral responsibility. Existing formulations of deep self views have two major problems: They are often underspecified, and they tend to understand the nature of the deep self in excessively rationalistic terms. Here I propose a new deep self theory of moral responsibility called the Self-Expression account that addresses these issues. The (...)
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  • Why Compatibilists Need Alternative Possibilities.Reid Blackman - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):529-544.
    Defenders of compatibilism occupy one of two camps: those who think that free will requires the ability to do otherwise, and those who deny this. Those compatibilists who think that free will requires the ability to do otherwise are interested in defending a reading of ‘can’ such that one can do otherwise even if determinism is true. By contrast, those compatibilists who think that free will does not require the ability to do otherwise tend to join incompatibilists in denying that (...)
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  • Quality of Will, Private Blame and Conversation: Reply to Driver, Shoemaker, and Vargas.Michael McKenna - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (2):243-263.
    In this paper, I defend my book Conversation and Responsibility in response to three critics: Julia Driver, David Shoemaker, and Manuel Vargas. Driver raises questions about my account of private blame. Shoemaker finds problems with my account of quality of will. And Vargas questions the conversational nature of my account.
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