Internal WiP: Dr Gabriel de Marco

Interventions and Moral Responsibility

Abstract: In the literature on free will and moral responsibility, cases involving agents whose actions issue from surreptitiously implanted pro-attitudes, have generated a significant amount of discussion. In extreme versions of such cases, the agent undergoes a radical change as a result of the intervention, and seemingly lacks moral responsibility for actions that result from it. Yet, regarding various features often considered to be relevant for responsibility – e.g., the ability to do otherwise, or the ability to recognize moral reasons – these agents are no different than typical agents who are responsible for similar actions. In order to explain why these manipulated agents are not responsible, some have developed bypassing views, on which a part of the relevant difference between manipulated agents and typical agents is that the former’s actions are the result of attitudes which have been produced in a way that bypassed the agent’s control over her mental life. After discussing various features on which such accounts can differ, I aim to develop an extension of bypassing accounts that can help to explain cases of interventions that are less extreme; cases in which the intervention may not be enough to eliminate the agent’s responsibility, yet it may result in mitigated responsibility.

Venue: Oxford Martin School Seminar Room 2

Booking: not required – internal only