Responsibility Without Wrongdoing or Blame

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 7:124-148 (2018)
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Abstract

In most discussions of moral responsibility, an agent’s moral responsibility for harming or failing to aid is equated with the agent’s being blameworthy for having done wrong. In this paper, I will argue that one can be morally responsible for one’s action even if the action was not wrong, not blameworthy, and not the result of blameworthy deliberation or bad motivation. This makes a difference to how we should relate to each other and ourselves in the aftermath. Some people have blown off their responsibility when they shouldn't have, and others have held themselves responsible – or second and third parties have held them responsible – as if they were wrongdoers and blameworthy when neither is the case.

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Julie Tannenbaum
Pomona College

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