Moral Responsibility and the Self
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Moral responsibility is an issue at the heart of the free-will debate. The question of how we can have moral responsibility in a deterministic world is an interesting and puzzling one. Compatibilists arguments have left open the possibility that the ability to do otherwise is not required for moral responsibility. The challenge, then, is to come up with what our attributions of moral responsibility are tracking. To do this, criteria which can adequately differentiate cases in which the agent is responsible from cases in which the agent is not responsible are required. I argue that an agent is responsible for the consequences of an action if they stem, in an appropriate way, from the agent's deep values and desires. These deep values and desires make up the Deep Self. Parts of the Deep Self, first, tend to be enduring; second, desires within it tend to be general (as opposed to directed towards specific things); third, they tend to be reflectively endorsed by the agent; fourth, these traits are often central to the agent's self-conception; and fifth, they are not generally in extreme conflict with other deep traits. Empirical work is drawn upon to help develop a suitable account of what deserves to be called a part of the Deep Self. I also strengthen and extend this view by considering issues of poor judgement and weakness of will, and when and how we can be considered responsible for them.
Cite this work
Thomas Blanchard (2011). Moral Responsibility and the Self. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/6193