Self-Manipulation and Moral Responsibility

Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 42 (3):107-129 (2023)
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Abstract

In this paper, I first argue that sometimes freely and knowingly manipulating oneself does not fully preserve moral responsibility – namely, in cases of practically distinct self-manipulation. However, I argue that practically distinct self-manipulation preserves moral responsibility to some extent because such a self-manipulated person is more morally responsibility than an other-manipulated person. This is an important result: manipulating oneself doesn’t always fully preserve one’s moral responsibility for one’s actions. But in what sense is the self-manipulated person more morally responsible? I argue the self-manipulated person is not a fitting target of the reactive attitudes but continues to have wrongdoing-incurred reparative obligations. This explains the intuitive judgement about the self-manipulated person, provides a better explanation of “tracing” cases, and reveals important requirements for a plausible theory of moral responsibility.

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Benjamin Matheson
University of Bern

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