Most people would agree that a small child, or a cognitively impaired adult, is less responsible for their actions, good or bad, than an unimpaired adult. But how do we explain that difference, and how far can anyone be praised or blamed for what they have done?
In this fascinating introduction, Matthew Talbert explores some of the key questions shaping current debates about moral responsibility, including: What is free will, and is it required for moral responsibility? Are we responsible for the unforeseen consequences of our actions? Is it fair to blame people for doing what they believe is right? And are psychopaths open to blame?
As Talbert argues, we are morally responsible for our actions when they are related to us in particular ways: when our actions express our true selves, for example, or when we exercise certain kinds of control over them. It is because we bear these relationships to our actions that we are open to praise and blame.
Moral Responsibility will be an important resource for students and researchers in ethics, moral psychology, and philosophy of agency and of great interest to all those wishing to understand an important aspect of our moral practices.
Matthew Talbert is Associate Professor of Philosophy at West Virginia University