How to be an Actualist and Blame People

Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 6 (2019)
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The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics concerns the relationship between an agent’s free actions and her moral obligations. The actualist affirms, while the possibilist denies, that facts about what agents would freely do in certain circumstances partly determines that agent’s moral obligations. This paper assesses the plausibility of actualism and possibilism in light of desiderata about accounts of blameworthiness. This paper first argues that actualism cannot straightforwardly accommodate certain very plausible desiderata before offering a few independent solutions on behalf of the actualist. This paper then argues that, contrary to initial appearances, possibilism is subject to its own comparably troubling blameworthiness problem.

Author Profiles

Travis Timmerman
Seton Hall University
Philip Swenson
William & Mary


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