The Out of Character Objection to the Character Condition on Moral Responsibility

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):24-31 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


According to the character condition, a person is morally responsible for an action A only if a character trait of hers non-accidentally motivates her performing A. But that condition is untenable according to the out of character objection because people can be morally responsible for acting out of character. We reassess this common objection. Of the seven accounts of acting out of character that we outline, only one is even a prima facie counterexample to the character condition. And it is not obvious that people act out of character in that sense. We argue that whether the out of character objection succeeds ultimately depends on the unnoticed methodological commitment that cases that may not resemble human life provide good data for theorizing about moral responsibility. But even if such cases provide good data, the forcefulness of the objection is at least deflated given that its persuasive power is supposed to come from clear real-life cases.

Author Profiles

Benjamin Matheson
Universitat de Valencia
Robert J. Hartman
Ohio Northern University


Added to PP

22 (#77,535)

6 months
22 (#58,706)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?