Semicompatibilism and Moral Responsibility for Actions and Omissions: In Defence of Symmetrical Requirements

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):349-363 (2021)
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Although convinced by Frankfurt-style cases that moral responsibility does not require the ability to do otherwise, semicompatibilists have not wanted to accept a parallel claim about moral responsibility for omissions, and so they have accepted asymmetrical requirements on moral responsibility for actions and omissions. In previous work, I have presented a challenge to various attempts at defending this asymmetry. My view is that semicompatibilists should give up these defenses and instead adopt symmetrical requirements on moral responsibility for actions and omissions, and in this paper I highlight three advantages of doing so: first, it avoids a strange implication of the truth of determinism; second, it allows for a principled reply to Philip Swenson’s recent ‘No Principled Difference Argument’; third, it provides a reason to reject a crucial inference rule invoked by Peter van Inwagen’s ‘Direct Argument’ for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism.

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Taylor W. Cyr
Samford University


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