Character control and historical moral responsibility
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Some proponents of compatibilist moral responsibility have proposed an historical theory which requires that agents deploy character control in order to be morally responsible. An important type of argument for the character control condition is the manipulation argument, such as Mele’s example of Beth and Chuck. In this paper I show that Beth can be exonerated on various conditions other than her failure to execute character control—I propose a new character, Patty, who meets these conditions and is, I argue, morally responsible for her actions despite lacking character control. Thus the character control condition is unmotivated. I suggest there may be an alternative basis for an historical theory of moral responsibility nonetheless.
KeywordsCompatibilism Moral responsibility Manipulation argument Ability to do otherwise condition Historical theory of moral responsibility Domination
For comments and criticism I am grateful to Robert Howell, Steve Sverdlik, Philippe Chuard, Luke Robinson, Brad Thompson, Matthew Lockard, Justin Fisher, Steve Hiltz, Ken Daley, Kirsten Egerstrom, Charles Hermes, Kelly McCormick, Jean Kazez, and an anonymous Philosophical Studies referee.
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