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Illusions of Undermined Responsibility
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Arts and Humanities. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2011 (English)In: Morality and the Cognitive Sciences, Book of abstracts, Riga, Latvia: Center for the Cognitive Sciences and Semantics, University of Latvia , 2011Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Many of us find attributions of moral responsibility undermined when we reflect on skeptical philosophical arguments. Defenders of moral responsibility try to explain away such reactions and undermine premises of these arguments, but the worries seem uncomfortably independent of any one particular argument or dubious premise. By contrast, skeptics seem to have a straightforward explanation of why people seem responsible though in fact they are not: we have paid insufficient attention to features highlighted by the skeptical arguments.

In this paper, I argue that the shoe is on the other foot. Judging by recent work on the psychology of responsibility judgments, skeptical intuitions are best seen as side-effects of cognitive systems designed to (i) track explanatory relations between aspects of agents’ motivation and the objects of responsibility and (ii) guide practices of holding agents responsible for those events. I begin by reviewing the relevant psychological model of responsibility judgments and its support and indicating how it explains the appeal of various skeptical arguments. I then argue that if these explanations are correct, intuitions of undermined responsibility triggered by such arguments are akin to visual illusions, preventing us from seeing a relation that is really there.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Riga, Latvia: Center for the Cognitive Sciences and Semantics, University of Latvia , 2011.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68247OAI: diva2:416991
Morality and the Cognitive Sciences;7th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication
Moral responsibility as explanation
Available from: 2011-05-23 Created: 2011-05-13 Last updated: 2011-05-23Bibliographically approved

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