Questions for a Science of Moral Responsibility

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In the last few decades, the literature on moral responsibility has been increasingly populated by scientific studies. Studies in neuroscience and psychology, in particular, have been claimed to be relevant for discussions about moral responsibility in a number of ways. And at the same time, there is not yet a systematic understanding of the sort of questions a science of moral responsibility is supposed to answer. This paper is an attempt to move toward such an understanding. I discuss three models for framing scientific questions relevant to an investigation of moral responsibility. The favored model—the Enhancement model—proposes that a science of moral responsibility has two descriptive tasks. First, science can describe the causes and effects of the many sorts of responses that constitute the human practices of moral responsibility, such as praise, blame, and punishment. And, second, science can describe how modifications aiming at the improvement of such practices can be achieved. Relatively to the other models to be considered, the Enhancement model is broader in scope and less tied to the traditional philosophical agenda on moral responsibility.
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First archival date: 2018-09-03
Latest version: 2 (2018-09-03)
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