Choice, ownership and responsibility
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My dissertation is to answer these two questions: "Does moral responsibility require choice?" and "If not, what does it require?" Classic accounts of moral responsibility, such as libertarian accounts, assume a volition condition - we are not morally responsible for a behavior unless we have directly or indirectly chosen it. I call this view volitionism. Non-volitionism, on the other hand, claims that no such choice is necessary for moral responsibility. I propose and defend a non-volitionist account of moral responsibility. I first argue against volitionism by comparing a paradigm case of choice with some typical cases of non-choice mental activities and showing that no responsibility-generating power can be found uniquely in choice. Then, I examine some current non-volitionist accounts and argue that they all face a serious challenge - the Problem of Brain Manipulation. Finally, based on what I call the normative Strawsonian framework, I propose a non-volitionist account of moral responsibility that meets this challenge. According to my account, moral responsibility for a behavior requires that, roughly, the behavior be caused by a certain evaluative attitude or judgment of which the agent can claim deep ownership.
2012 Freely available dissertations (MU)