Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 349–376

Identification and Responsibility

  • Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen

DOI: 10.1023/B:ETTA.0000004623.85980.57

Cite this article as:
Lippert-Rasmussen, K. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2003) 6: 349. doi:10.1023/B:ETTA.0000004623.85980.57


Real-self accounts of moral responsibility distinguish between various types of motivational elements. They claim that an agent is responsible for acts suitably related to elements that constitute the agent's real self. While such accounts have certain advantages from a compatibilist perspective, they are problematic in various ways. First, in it, authority and authenticity conceptions of the real self are often inadequately distinguished. Both of these conceptions inform discourse on identification, but only the former is relevant to moral responsibility. Second, authority and authenticity real-self theories are unable to accommodate cases in which the agent neither identifies nor disidentifies with his action and yet seems morally responsible for what he does. Third, authority and authenticity real-self theories are vulnerable to counterexamples in which the provenance of the agent's real self undermines responsibility.

authenticity Bratman compatibilism Frankfurt moral responsibility motivation planning real self values Watson 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark

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