What Legal Concept Is a Translation of the Everyday Concept of Responsibility

Many others agree with Wolf, arguing that impaired moral competence (perhaps due to education or other environmental factors) undermines moral responsibility (Benson 2001, Doris & Murphy 2007, Fischer & Ravizza 1998, Fricker 2010, Levy 2003, Russell 1995 and 2004, Wallace 1996, Watson 1987 [2004]). Part of what motivates this conclusion is the idea that it may be unreasonable to expect morally impaired agents to avoid unlawful behavior, and that it is therefore unfair to expose these agents to moral culpability because of their misconduct. For a detailed discussion of the moral competence requirement for accountability with respect to fairness considerations, see R. Jay Wallace (1996); see also Erin Kelly (2013), Neil Levy (2009) and Gary Watson (1987 [2004]). To reject the claim that guilt is unjust in the case of the morally deficient agent, see several of the defenders of attributionism mentioned in §3.1.2 (in particular Hieronymi 2004, Scanlon 1998 and Talbert 2012). Fischer and Ravizza thus come to the following preliminary conclusion: “relatively clear cases of moral responsibility” – that is, those in which an agent is not hypnotized, etc. – are characterized by the fact that “an agent shows control leadership over an action, insofar as the mechanism that actually occurs in the action is its own mechanism that responds to the reasons” (1998: 39). But to what extent does an agent`s mechanism have to be responsive for that agent to have the kind of control over his behavior that comes with moral responsibility? A mechanism that is highly sensitive to reason would recognize and react to any sufficient reason to act differently (1998:41). (In Fischer and Ravizza`s terminology, such a mechanism is very “receptive” and “responsive” to reasons.) But good reasons for responsiveness may not be necessary for leadership control, because many intuitively responsible agents – that is, many gardener variety criminals – do not find enough reasons to do anything else. On the other hand, a low responsiveness of the reasons for leadership control is not enough.

An agent with a weakly reason-sensitive mechanism will respond appropriately to reason sufficient to do otherwise, but the pattern of responsiveness evident in the agent`s behavior might be too arbitrary to assign to the agent the type of control required for accountability. A person`s pattern of reaction to reasons would probably seem relevant unpredictable if, for example, he gave up buying a ticket to a basketball game if it cost a thousand dollars, but not if it cost two thousand dollars (Fischer and Ravizza 1998: 66). The epistemic dimension of responsibility has more to offer than what is contained in the skeptical argument above, but the argument brings out much of what is interesting in this area. On the one hand, it is based above all on a tracing strategy. This strategy is used, for example, in accounts that show a person who does not meet the conditions of control or knowledge of responsibility at the time of the action, but who still appears morally responsible for his behavior. In such a case, the Agent`s liability may be based on the fact that its failure to comply with certain conditions of liability is due to previous actions of the Agent when it has fulfilled these conditions. For example, a person may be so intoxicated that they have no control or awareness of their behavior, and yet it may still be appropriate to blame them for their drunk behavior as long as they have voluntarily taken steps to become intoxicated. The tracing strategy plays an important role in many accountability relationships (see e.g. Fischer & Ravizza 1998: 49-51), but has also been heavily criticized (see Vargas 2005; for a response, see Fischer and Tognazzini 2009; for more information on tracing, see Khoury 2012, King 2014, Shabo 2015 and Timpe 2011). The only possible place of original responsibility [for a subsequent involuntary act] is an acratic act.

a conscious sin. (2004: 307; Recently, efforts have been made to develop partially forward-looking representations of responsibility that escape some of the criticisms mentioned above. These (somewhat revised) reports justify our responsible practices by invoking their ability to promote moral agency and to acquire the skills necessary for such agency. Most notable in this regard is Manuel Vargas` “agency culture model” of accountability (2013; see also Jefferson 2019 and McGeer 2015). Recent conversation reports on responsibility (§3.2.2) also have an important forward-looking component, as they consider those with whom one might have fruitful moral interactions as candidates for responsibility.