Moral Responsibility and Persons

Moral Responsibility and Persons

Eugene Schlossberger
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Moral Responsibility and Persons
    Book Description:

    Challenging traditional philosophical views of moral responsibility, Eugene Schlossberger argues that we are responsible not so much for what we do as for who we are. He explores what it means to be a person, concluding that personhood is the sum of beliefs and values-which are by no means entirely within our control. Consequently, the voluntariness of our acts-or even whether we act at all-is irrelevant to the moral evaluation of us as persons. Schlossberger contends that we are to be judged morally on the basis of what we are, our "world-view," rather than what we do.

    InMoral Responsibility and PersonsSchlossberger disputes various received philosophical positions. His challenging and entertaining account also examines psychology and its view of the nature of personhood, as well as insanity and the "personality" of animals, children, and computers. He explores the validity of emotions we may feel in response to others-especially gratitude and resentment. And finally, Schlossberger tackles the inevitable implications of his position in the area of crime and punishment.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0651-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. I Approaching Responsibility
    (pp. 1-20)

    This book talks of many things (although kings receive barely a mention, and cabbages appear not at all). It attempts to provide a systematic and illuminating picture of some of our most important moral concepts and practices. Among the topics that arise in the course of these discussions are not only moral responsibility, the nature of personhood, and the problem of determinism, but also insanity, punishment, the mind-body problem, the moral status of computers, the character of emotions (particularly gratitude and resentment), the nature of psychological explanation, identity over time, moral luck, negligence, duress, and wrong acts done from good...

  5. II Personhood
    (pp. 21-95)

    For well over three centuries philosophers have puzzled over the problem of personal identity. On what basis, they have asked, do we insist that a chunky, middle-aged accountant in 1986 is the same person as a bald, squealing infant in 1936? The two do not look alike, talk alike, or think alike; they do not even enjoy the same sorts of food (with the possible exception of apple sauce). Very little that is true of the accountant is also true of the infant.

    Let me put the problem more precisely. Consider the accountant just as she is at a particular...

  6. III A Theory of Responsibility
    (pp. 96-139)

    There are three elements of a theory of moral responsibility. First, we need adefinitionof moral responsibility, a clear statement of what it means to say that A is morally responsible for x.¹ Second, we need anaccountof when and why A is responsible, in that sense, for x. (The third element, an explanation of why that definition of the word “responsibility” is the one we should be concerned with, will be provided in Chapter V.) There are, after all, many different ways in which the word “responsibility” is used in English,² and each of these ways would...

  7. IV Determinism
    (pp. 140-162)

    One of the hoariest of ethical debates pits responsibility against determinism: if everything I do is governed by universal laws of nature, can I be held responsible for my actions?¹ If my account of responsibility is correct, most discussions of responsibility and determinism have concentrated on the wrong questions. This chapter, it is hoped, will redress that wrong.

    Why have so many worried that if determinism is true, people are not responsible for what they do?² Most writers who think determinism and moral responsibility are not compatible (the “incompatibilists”) begin by assuming that freedom or the ability to have done...

  8. V Punishment and Personal Emotions
    (pp. 163-206)

    The picture I have been drawing of moral responsibility is fully satisfying only if it can explain those facets of human life, such as punishment and personal emotions, whose justification depends, in some important way, upon moral responsibility. If, instead, we must invoke the traditional view to explain punishment and personal emotions, the conclusions of the last four chapters are less significant than they seem.

    This is an important objection. It concedes that my account does give an adequate picture of moralevaluability:if someone is, on my account, morally responsible for a bad trait x, then she is a...

    (pp. 207-209)
    (pp. 209-210)
    (pp. 210-212)
    (pp. 212-213)
    (pp. 213-215)
    (pp. 215-220)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 221-252)
  16. Index
    (pp. 253-255)