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It is now well over a decade since John Fischer and Mark Ravizza (1998) – and before them, Jay Wallace (1994) and Daniel Dennett (1984) – defended responsibility from the threat of determinism. What these authors’ compatibilist theories have in common is the idea that responsible agents are not those agents whose actions are un-caused, but rather those agents who possess certain competences or capacities. But defending responsibility from determinism is a potentially endless and largely negative enterprise – it can go on for as long as dissenting voices remain (i.e. indefinitely), and although such work strengthens the theoretical foundations of these theories, it won’t necessarily build anything on top of those foundations, nor will it move these theories into new territory or explain how to apply them to practical contexts. To this end, instead of devoting more effort to the negative enterprise of building up even stronger fortifications against the ever-present threat of determinism, the papers in this volume address these more positive challenges by exploring ways in which compatibilist responsibility theory can be extended and/or applied in a range of practical contexts.
KeywordsMoral Responsibility Collective Responsibility Outcome Responsibility Role Responsibility Luck Egalitarianism
The papers in this volume are a selection of papers presented at the international conference Moral Responsibility: Neuroscience, Organization & Engineering, that was held in Delft, The Netherlands, on August 24–27, 2009, as well as some invited contributions. This volume was composed as part of the research programs “The Brain and The Law” and “Moral Responsibility in R&D Networks”, both supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The editors express their gratitude to Malik Aleem Ahmed for helping them to prepare this manuscript for publication despite our constantly-shifting deadlines and a never-ending stream of “another thing please” requests. Special thanks also go to Antony Duff, Walter Glannon and Neil Levy for providing timely, insightful and helpful feedback – often on successive drafts of the same papers – as well as to Maja de Keijzer and Nicoline Ris from Springer and Springer’s anonymous referees. Ibo van de Poel is grateful to the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS), for providing him with the opportunity, as a Fellow-in-Residence, to work on this volume during his stay in the academic year 2009–2010. And Nicole Vincent is grateful for the generous financial and moral support of the Philosophy Department at Delft University of Technology, as well as the 3TU Centre for Ethics and Technology (3TU.Ethics), but also to Saskia Polder-Verkiel for helping her to plan the aforementioned conference, for making things happen when the pressure was on, and for her feedback on oral presentations of many of the papers contained in this volume.
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