A Relational Theory of Moral Responsibility

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This paper introduces a new theory of moral responsibility that does not rely on any concept of human control. Since an understanding of determinism shapes the possible set of views one can take regarding control, and there is no account of control that could be held simultaneously by both compatibilists and libertarians, the ‚Äúrelational theory of responsibility‚ÄĚ is meant to create a common ground between compatibilism and libertarianism which are held to be mutually exclusive. Since the relational account of responsibility is to be a common ground, it must be neutral regarding the truth of determinism and indeterminism. Thus, it must also be indifferent concerning different concepts of control formed by compatibilists and libertarians. I argue that my view can be accepted by both compatibilists and incompatibilists. It makes the claim that, in order for a person to be responsible, she has to act in a certain type of situation that needs to be such that there is at least one relevantly similar situation in which the agent refrains from performing the action that was executed in the original case. A person cannot be held responsible for doing what she does if no person refrains from performing that action in a relevantly similar situation. I claim that the relational theory of responsibility itself is sufficient for grounding responsibility. Since the relational account expresses responsibility without relying on any concept of control, a choice between determinism and indeterminism does not have to be made in order to establish a proper concept of moral responsibility.
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Archival date: 2016-09-16
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