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Action, Ethics, and Responsibility

Edited by Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, and Harry S. Silverstein

Publication Year: 2010

Leading philosophers explore responsibility from a variety of perspectives, including metaphysics, action theory, and philosophy of law.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Topics in Contemporary Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

The essays in this volume derive from presentations given at the ninth annual Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference (INPC), held March 31 – April 2, 2006, in Pullman, Washington, and Moscow, Idaho. The conference received considerable administrative and financial support from a...

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1. Action, Ethics, and Responsibility: A Framework

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pp. 1-24

The essays in this volume concern a wide variety of topics, all of which are significantly related to the issue of responsibility, including metaphysics, action theory, ethics and moral theory, and the philosophy of law. The first section of this introductory chapter will consider metaphysics; the...

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2. A Reappraisal of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing

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pp. 25-45

Warren Quinn and Philippa Foot have both given versions of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing (DDA) that justify a moral distinction between doing something to bring about harm and doing nothing to prevent harm. They argue that whereas it is justified to allow one person...

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3. Killing John to Save Mary: A Defense of the Moral Distinction between Killing and Letting Die

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pp. 47-66

This essay considers Michael Tooley’s argument that initiating a causal process is morally equivalent to refraining from interfering in that process. Tooley develops the Moral Symmetry Principle in order to show the moral irrelevance of whether a person causes, or merely allows, some outcome...

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4. Making Up One’s Mind

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pp. 67-84

Often, on the basis of practical reasoning, one makes up one’s mind to do a certain thing. In so doing, one comes to have an intention to do that thing. As well, one often engages in theoretical reasoning and, on that basis, makes up one’s mind how things stand in some matter, thereby...

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5. Conscious Intentions

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pp. 85-107

The measure of subjects’ consciousness of their intentions in scientific studies is their reports — reports subjects make to the effect that they had conscious intentions at certain times. In the words of Richard Passingham and Hakwan Lau, “the operational index of consciousness is the ability to...

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6. Locke’s Compatibilism: Suspension of Desire or Suspension of Determinism?

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pp. 109-125

Naturalistic theories of mind and action are typically considered to be recent arrivals on the philosophical scene, in contrast with theories that insist on a categorical separation between actions and events, such as agent causation, which is typically traced back to Aristotle, and can be found in...

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7. The Fall of the Mind Argument and Some Lessons about Freedom

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pp. 127-147

Libertarians believe that freedom exists but is incompatible with determinism, and so are committed to the compatibility of freedom and indeterminism. Perhaps the most pressing objection to libertarianism is the so-called Mind argument for the incompatibility of freedom and indeterminism...

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8. Selective Hard Compatibilism

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pp. 149-173

Recent work in compatibilist theory has focused a considerable amount of attention on the question of the nature of the capacities required for freedom and moral responsibility. Compatibilists, obviously, reject the suggestion that these capacities involve an ability to act otherwise in the...

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9. Manipulation and Guidance Control

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pp. 175-186

With my coauthor, Mark Ravizza, I have sought to sketch an overall framework for moral responsibility. Part of this framework involves the presentation of an account of a distinctive sort of control, guidance control; on our view, guidance control is the freedom-relevant condition necessary and...

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10. Free Will: Some Bad News

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pp. 187-201

I believe that if we reflect more on the free will debate, and on ourselves as participants in it, we shall do better in tackling the free will problem. More specifically, I will argue here that the free will debate is characterized by an effort to see the bright side of things. This feature is striking, and it...

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11. Responsibility and Practical Reason

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pp. 203-218

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle observed that agents are responsible only for what they do voluntarily — that “[a]cts that are voluntary receive praise and blame, whereas those that are involuntary receive pardon and sometimes pity too” (Aristotle 1955, 111). Aristotle also observed that...

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12. The Metaphysics of Collective Agency

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pp. 219-233

In both scholarly and everyday discussions of responsibility, the ways in which collectives like corporations or governments have responsibilities remains a contentious issue (see Kutz 2000; French 1995; May and Hoffman 1991). In such discussions, one comparatively neglected area of focus...

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13. Moral Judgment and Volitional Incapacity

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pp. 235-258

The central question of the branch of metaethics we may call philosophical moral psychology concerns the nature or essence of moral judgment: what is it to think that something is right or wrong, good or bad, obligatory or forbidden? One datum in this inquiry is that sincerely held moral views...

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14. “So Sick He Deserves It”: Desert, Dangerousness, and Character in the Context of Capital Sentencing

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pp. 259-280

Discussions of criminal responsibility sometimes frame the inquiry as one regarding the most defensible standard for categorizing an offender as either bad or mad (Morse 2003, 165; Resnek 1997, 1 – 2; Schopp 2003, 324). Although the insanity defense calls for a dichotomous categorization of...

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15. Types of Terror Bombing and Shifting Responsibility

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pp. 281-294

When philosophers discuss intentional harm to noncombatants (NCs) in war or conflicts outside war, they tend to focus on terror bombing and its distinction from, for example, tactical bombing that can also cause harm and terror to NCs as collateral damage. In this essay, I shall consider some...


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pp. 295


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pp. 297-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780262289276
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262514842

Page Count: 316
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Topics in Contemporary Philosophy