Responsibility-Foundation: Still Needed and Still Missing

Science, Religion and Culture (forthcoming)
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Responsibility is impossible because there is no responsibility-maker and there needs to be one if people are morally responsible. The two most plausible candidates, psychology and decision, fail. A person is not responsible for an unchosen psychology or a psychology that was chosen when the person is not responsible for the choice. This can be seen in intuitions about instantly-created and manipulated people. This result is further supported by the notion that, in general, the right, the good, and virtue rest on the exercise of a capacity rather than the capacity itself. It is also supported by the notion that negligence is not a responsibility-maker. ​ A person is not responsible for a choice that does not reflect his psychology or that does reflect it when he is not responsible for the psychology. This can be seen by considering intuitions regarding acts that are unconnected or arbitrarily connected to a person’s psychology. It can also be seen intuitions about acts that result from a manipulated psychology. The problem with choice as a foundation can be further seen in that an infinite or self-created person would not be responsible despite these superhuman choice-related features.

Author Profiles

Robert M. Kelly
Bakersfield College
Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University


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