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Given the concept of moral responsibility that is culturally fundamental in the West, this argument may be used to Galen Strawson (Contributor Webpage). Galen Strawson (, chap. 2; , , , ) has published several versions of an argument to the effect that moral responsibility is impossible. Response to Strawson on the Impossibility of Moral Responsibility the author, Galen Strawson argues for the impossibility of what he terms.

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Skepticism About Moral Responsibility

The idea that people can be truly or completely responsible for their own actions, authors or originators of their actions in such a way that they can be responsible or answerable for them in the strongest possible sense, is a very familiar one, and it will seem perfectly clear to non-philosophers. He does not say that free will is impossible because determinism is true. For the freedom presently in question is a property, real or imagined, that nearly all adult human beings — in the West, at least — believe themselves to possess.

This may seem contrived, but essentially the same argument can wtrawson given in a more natural form. Moral responsibility skeptics and compatibilists alike have long argued that such indeterminacy makes the action unacceptably chancy, in a way that is responsibility-undermining see, e. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility – Oxford Scholarship

Realistic materialist moniststhen, grant that experiential phenomena are real, and are wholly physical, strictly on a par with the phenomena of extension and mass as characterized by physics.

Among these, obviously, are actions which typically express the values we hold, themselves, i. For some scientific skeptics, these and other findings e. Here we are setting out on a regress that we cannot stop. To take responsibility for, say, organizing a ressponsibility, is to agree to put forth the effort needed to achieve a certain set of goals or tasks—e.


Plum is just like an ordinary human being, except that a team of neuroscientists programmed him at the beginning on his life so that his reasoning is often but not always egoistic, and at times strongly so, with the intended consequence that in his current circumstances he is causally determined to engage in the egoistic reasons-responsive process of deliberation and to have the set of first and second-order desires that result in his decision to kill White.

One must also have consciously and explicitly chosen to be the way one is, in that respect, responsibilitg one must have succeeded in bringing it about that one is that way.

At this level one may well ask whether the pervasive role of physical relations really matters to the choices we’re considering.

responisbility Please, subscribe or login to access full text content. Al Melefor instance, has forcefully argued that the readiness potential RP that precedes action by a half-second or more need not be construed as the cause of the action but rather is best interpreted as the beginning of forming an intention to act. Mirror Sites View this site from another server: While some critics contend this cannot be done, moral responsibility skeptics point out that there are several straswon ways of justifying criminal punishment and dealing with criminal behavior more generally that do not appeal to the notion of basic desert and are thus not threatened by the skeptical perspective.

Hegel Martin Heidegger Heraclitus R.

Gratitude involves being thankful toward the person who has acted beneficially. These include deterrence theories, moral education theories, punishment justified by the right to harm in self-defense, and incapacitation theories. Yet he does not decide as he does because of an irresistible desire.

Now when anything is a referent, it can also be evaluated sorted and ranked because it can be thought about and galfn to other things of like type or even of varying types. In fact, recent work in experimental philosophy suggests that the principle may not be as intuitive as philosophers think.


One can take responsibility for many things, from the mundane to the vitally important. Nietzsche thought that thoroughgoing acknowledgement of the point was long overdue, and his belief that there might be moral advantages in such an acknowledgement may deserve further consideration.

Such findings seem to suggest that diminished belief in free rexponsibility and moral responsibility would indeed have negative consequences.

The Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility

Traditionally, the concept of moral responsibility has been closely connected to the problem of free will. Some of them call for the responwibility that “free will is an illusion.

Wilson ; Walker ; see also entry on Legal Punishment.

He defines it in terms of moral responsibilitywhich he defines in terms of ‘desert,’ which he circularly defines in terms of freedom.

The point seems obvious, and yet it contradicts a fundamental part of our natural self-conception, and there are elements in human thought that move very deeply against it. Xtrawson if they do, they are being tactically disingenuous.

Eddy NahmiasD. The same connection between belief in free will and increased punitiveness has also been found or a number of other studies see, e. The claim, then, is not that people cannot change the way they are.

Galen J. Strawson, The impossibility of moral responsibility – PhilPapers

This article has no associated abstract. From the Publisher via CrossRef no proxy responsibilit. Freedom, he says, is a synonym for ‘true responsibility. Perhaps, as these studies indicate, it would have both good and bad consequences.