By In Agency and Responsibility, I Wish I Knew Then... Comments (4)

I wish I knew then what I know now about…moral responsibility

Let us know your special (perhaps hard-earned) insights into the field of moral responsibility. Think of it as a way to provide a shortcut to those just starting in the field. Could include articles/books, arguments, or views you wish you’d known about much earlier than you did.

4 Responses to I wish I knew then what I know now about…moral responsibility

  1. David Shoemaker says:

    For my part, I wish I’d known much earlier than I did about Cheshire Calhoun’s “Responsibility and Reproach.” Published in Ethics in 1989(!), it lays out the possibility of a kind of blame warranted toward a certain kind of nonculpable “wrongdoing.” Illustrated by reproach to sexists living in a deeply sexist culture, it opens up the possibility of a range of responsibility responses not necessarily coextensive with the domain of culpable moral wrongdoing. This might have freed me up much earlier to focus more squarely just on the range of our responsibility responses and their fittingness conditions.

  2. David Sobel says:

    Would the move you envisage here, Shoe, allow one to sometimes say of a person that they are blameworthy for what they did yet that they did not have sufficient reason to not do it? That, as you know, would come in handy for the subjectivist against Darwall and Portmore.

  3. David Shoemaker says:

    Yes, on Calhoun’s view for sure. For me, it depends. I’m certainly comfortable saying you might be blameworthy for having done what you did not have sufficient *moral* reason to do, as I think the blameworthy cuts across all sorts of normative domains beyond the moral. But could it be that you are blameworthy if you didn’t have sufficient reason (of any kind) to do it? Depends what’s meant by “have,” of course. If it means the reason had to be “graspable” by you as you are, I may be inclined to say that blameworthiness of a certain sort (accountability) does require you to have been able to grasp the reason. But there are definitely others (Scanlon, Angela Smith, Hieronymi, Talbert) who think otherwise, that you can be blameworthy for what you did even if you couldn’t have grasped the reason to do otherwise.

  4. I should also add that if you think hurt feelings count as a responsibility response (hint: they are), and that they can count as a kind of blame (hint: they do), then you easily get cases in which one is blameworthy for causing someone’s hurt feelings *even when you had overriding reason to do so*. I admit, however, that that view is *slightly* controversial.