Blameworthiness and Causal Outcomes

Erkenntnis (forthcoming)
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Abstract

It is widely held that whether a person is morally responsible for an outcome partly depends on whether certain causal relations obtain between that person and the outcome. This paper argues that, regardless of whether the preceding claim about moral responsibility is true, moral blameworthiness is independent of such causal considerations. This conclusion is motivated by considering cases from Carolina Sartorio and Sara Bernstein. The causal structures of these cases are complex. Sartorio and Bernstein believe that reaching conclusions about moral responsibility and blameworthiness requires wading through this complexity. But it is argued here that getting clear on these causal structures does not help us assess blameworthiness (regardless of the relevance of such considerations for drawing conclusions about moral responsibility). Moral blameworthiness simply does not turn on the considerations relevant to figuring out whether an agent causally contributed to an outcome.

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Matthew Talbert
West Virginia University

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