Advertisement

The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 1–3, pp 173–189 | Cite as

Accountability and Desert

  • Dana Kay Nelkin
Article

Abstract

In recent decades, participants in the debate about whether we are free and responsible agents have tended with increasing frequency to begin their papers or books by fixing the terms “free” and “responsible” in clear ways to avoid misunderstanding. This is an admirable development, and while some misunderstandings have certainly been avoided, and positions better illuminated as a result , new and interesting questions also arise. Two ways of fixing these terms and identifying the underlying concepts have emerged as especially influential, one that takes the freedom required for responsibility to be understood in terms of accountability and the other in terms of desert . In this paper, I start by asking: are theorists talking about the same things, or are they really participating in two different debates? Are desert and accountability mutually entailing? I tentatively conclude that they are in fact mutually entailing. Coming to this conclusion requires making finer distinctions among various more specific and competing accounts of both accountability and desert. Ultimately, I argue, that there is good reason to accept that accountability and desert have the same satisfaction conditions.

Keywords

Accountability Blameworthiness Desert Fair opportunity Praiseworthiness Responsibility 

References

  1. Arneson, Richard. (forthcoming). In The ethics of war: Essays, eds. Saba Bazargan and Samuel C. Rickless. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Arneson, Richard. 2006. Just warfare theory and non-combatant immunity. Cornell International Law Journal 39: 663–688.Google Scholar
  3. Brink, David O. and Nelkin, Dana Kay. 2013. Fairness and the Architecture of Responsibility. In Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, ed. David Shoemaker, 284–313. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Clarke, Randolph. 2013. Some theses on desert. Philosophical Explorations 16((Special Issue: Desert)): 153–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Darwall, Stephen. 2006. The second personal standpoint. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Darwall, Stephen. 2007. Moral Obligation and Accountability. In Oxford Studies in Metaethics 2, ed. Russ Shafer-Landau, 111–132. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  7. Eshelman, Andrew. 2014. Worthy of praise: Responsibility and better-than-minimally-decent agency. In Oxford studies in agency and responsibility, Vol II: ‘Freedom and resentment’ at 50, ed. David Shoemaker, and Neal Tognazzini. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Feinberg, Joel. 1970a. Justice and personal desert. In Doing and deserving: Essays in the theory of responsibility, 55–94. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Feinberg, Joel. 1970b. Sua culpa. In Doing and deserving: Essays in the theory of responsibility, 187–221. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fischer, John Martin, and Neal Tognazzini. 2011. The physiognomy of responsibility. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82: 381–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kagan, Shelly. 2012. The geometry of desert. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. King, Matt. 2014. Two faces of desert. Philosophical Studies 169: 401–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McKenna, Michael. 2012. Conversation and Responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Nelkin, Dana Kay. 2011. Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Nelkin, Dana Kay. 2013a. Freedom and forgiveness. In Free will and moral responsibility, ed. Ishtiyaque Haji and Justin Caouette, 165–188. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.Google Scholar
  16. Nelkin, Dana Kay. 2013b. Responsibility, conversation, and desert: Comments on Michael McKenna’s conversation and responsibility. Philosophical Studies 171: 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nelkin, Dana Kay. 2013c. Desert, fairness, and resentment. Philosophical Explorations 16(Special Issue: Desert): 117–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nelkin, Dana Kay. 2015. Psychopaths, incorrigible racists, and faces of responsibility. Ethics 125: 357–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nelkin, Dana Kay. (forthcoming). “Blame,” in Encyclopedia of philosophy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Pereboom, Derk. 2014. Free will, agency, and meaning in life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Russell, Paul. 2013. Responsibility, naturalism, and ‘the morality system’. In Oxford studies in agency and responsibility, ed. David Shoemaker. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Scanlon, T.M. 2008. Moral dimensions: Permissibility, meaning, blame. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Scanlon, T.M. 2013. Giving desert its due. Philosophical Explorations 16((Special Issue: Desert)): 101–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shoemaker, David. 2015. Responsibility from the margins. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Smith, Angela. 2008. Control, responsibility, and moral assessment. Philosophical Studies 138: 367–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Smith, Angela. 2012. Attributability, answerability, and accountability: In defense of a unified account. Ethics 122: 575–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Strawson, Peter. 1962. Freedom and resentment. In Proceedings of the British Academy 48: 1–25, reprinted in Free Will, Second Edition ed. Gary Watson, 72–93. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Vargas, Manuel. 2013. Building better beings: A theory of moral responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vargas, Manuel. 2015. Desert, responsibility, and justification: A Reply to Doris, McGeer, and Robinson. Philosophical Studies 172: 2659–2678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Watson, Gary. 1996. Two faces of responsibility. Philosophical Topics 24: 227–248. [Reprinted in Watson (2004)].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Watson, Gary. 2004. Agency and answerability: Selected essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Watson, Gary. 2011. The trouble with psychopaths. In Reasons and recognition: Essays on the philosophy of T. M. Scanlon, ed. R.J. Wallace, R. Kumar, and S. Freeman, 307–331. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA

Personalised recommendations