Relevant Possibilities, Intentions, and Moral Responsibility

Daniel Moose

Abstract


Questions of free will often lead to a discussion of moral responsibility. It is generally assumed in a Libertarian system (one in which all action is free) that a moral agent is responsible for his actions. A Hard Determinism system (one in which no action is free) presents problems for moral responsibility. Since the agent has no control over his actions, it does not always seem most logical to hold him responsible for those actions. In their book Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility, John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza discuss a compatibilist system in which some, but not all, actions are free. In cases in which an agent has guidance control, i.e., he is free to act only with respect to some actions but is not free to act with respect to others, assigning moral responsibility can become difficult. In this paper, I attempt to develop a necessary condition for moral responsibility by revising the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) to address the counter-examples that are brought against it. In the end, I put forth the Principle of All Considered Possibilities (PACP), an intention-based condition that allows a person to be morally responsible even when lacking alternate possibilities.

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University of Victoria