More Trouble with Tracing

Erkenntnis 80 (5):987-1011 (2015)
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Abstract

Theories of moral responsibility rely on tracing principles to account for derivative moral responsibility. Manuel Vargas has argued that such principles are problematic. To show this, he presents cases where individuals are derivatively blameworthy for their conduct, but where there is no suitable earlier time to which their blameworthiness can be traced back. John Martin Fischer and Neal Tognazzini have sought to resolve this problem by arguing that blameworthiness in these scenarios can be traced back, given the right descriptions of these agents’ later conduct. I contend that this strategy may succeed against Vargas’s particular examples, but that it fails to resolve the larger problem. After clarifying some key issues about derivative responsibility and tracing principles, I develop a case that isn’t amenable to Fischer and Tognazzini’s treatment. I then suggest the outlines of a compromise solution to the problem for tracing principles

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Seth Shabo
University of Delaware

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