Freedom, Responsibility, and Omitting to Act

In David Palmer (ed.), Libertarian Free Will: Contemporary Debates. New York, NY, USA: pp. 107-23 (2014)
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We take it for granted that commonly we act freely and we are generally morally responsible for what we do when we so act. Can there be such a thing as freely omitting to act, or freely refraining or forbearing, and can we be similarly responsible for omitting, refraining, and forbearing? This paper advances a view of freely omitting to act. In many cases, freedom in omitting cannot come to the same thing as freedom in acting, since in many cases omitting to do a certain thing is not a matter of performing an action of any sort. There are nevertheless important similarities. It is argued, further, that we should view responsibility for omitting to act as capable of being basic or underived, not needing to derive from one’s responsibility for prior actions. Finally, brief consideration is given to a proposal concerning what is required for responsibility for omitting to do a certain thing.
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