, Volume 165, Issue 3, pp 735-752

Synchronic and diachronic responsibility

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Abstract

This paper distinguishes between synchronic responsibility (SR) and diachronic responsibility (DR). SR concerns an agent’s responsibility for an act at the time of the action, while DR concerns an agent’s responsibility for an act at some later time. While most theorists implicitly assume that DR is a straightforward matter of personal identity, I argue instead that it is grounded in psychological connectedness. I discuss the implications this distinction has for the concepts of apology, forgiveness, and punishment as well as the way in which this distinction can be used to defend quality of will accounts of responsibility against objections involving psychological manipulation. I argue that the intuition that a manipulated agent is not responsible can be explained by appeal to the conditions of DR and, as such, does not unproblematically shed light on the conditions of SR.