Explaining away epistemic skepticism about culpability

In Shoemaker David (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 141–164 (2017)
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Recently, a number of authors have suggested that the epistemic condition on moral responsibility makes blameworthiness much less common than we ordinarily suppose, and much harder to identify. This paper argues that such epistemically based responsibility skepticism is mistaken. Section 2 sketches a general account of moral responsibility, building on the Strawsonian idea that blame and credit relates to the agent’s quality of will. Section 3 explains how this account deals with central cases that motivate epistemic skepticism and how it avoids some objections to quality of will accounts recently raised by Gideon Rosen. But an intuitive worry brought out by these objections remains. Section 4 spells out this remaining worry and argues that, like traditional metaphysical responsibility skepticism, it has its source in a non-standard explanatory perspective on action, suggesting that strategies for explaining away the intuitive pull of traditional skepticism are applicable in this case too.

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Gunnar Björnsson
Stockholm University


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