The Problem Of Responsibility
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The purpose of this chapter is to establish the conceptual framework for, and articulate some of the pivotal assumptions of, this book. It attempts to set the stage for the analyses and arguments that follow, pointing the reader in the basic direction in which the philosophical discussion will ensue. It contains some general remarks about the metaphysics of human action, and concludes with a concise sketch of what is meant by “moral responsibility,” a conception which can and ought to undergird legal conceptions of criminal (liability) responsibility.
To be sure, some crucial questions of punishment are quite contingent on answers obtained from moral responsibility theory. For example, that a criminal qualifies as punishable depends in part on the extent to which she committed (or failed to commit or attempted to commit, as the case may be)1 a harmful wrongdoing responsibly, which at least means that she acted knowingly, intentionally and voluntarily. Moral responsibility theory has focused significantly and directly on the nature of a moral agent's acting intentionally and voluntarily and the extent to which that would make one a morally responsible agent.
KeywordsMoral Responsibility Moral Agent Legal Responsibility Criminal Responsibility Strict Liability
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