Graded Causation and Moral Responsibility

Erkenntnis:1-19 (2024)
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Theories of graded causation attract growing attention in the philosophical debate on causation. An important field of application is the controversial relationship between causation and moral responsibility. However, it is still unclear how exactly the notion of graded causation should be understood in the context of moral responsibility. One question is whether we should endorse a proportionality principle, according to which the degree of an agent’s moral responsibility is proportionate to their degree of causal contribution. A second question is whether a theory of graded causation should measure closeness to necessity or closeness to sufficiency. In this paper, we argue that we should indeed endorse a proportionality principle and that this principle supports a notion of graded causation relying on closeness to sufficiency rather than closeness to necessity. Furthermore, we argue that this insight helps to provide a plausible analysis of the so-called ‘Moral Difference Puzzle’ recently described by Bernstein.

Author Profiles

Vera Hoffmann-Kolss
University of Bern
Matthias Rolffs
University of Bern


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