Volume 2, Issue 2, April 2015
On Derivative Moral Responsibility and the Epistemic Connection Required for Moral Responsibility
Derivative moral responsibility is not moral responsibility at all. Much of the confusion found in the literature concerning moral responsibility and the free will problem can be traced back to a penchant to reconcile our philosophical theories of moral responsibility with our folk commonsense linguistic accounts of moral responsibility, a tradition that is notable for its utter lack of making two important distinctions - (1) the distinction between derivative moral responsibility and non-derivative moral responsibility (what Galen Strawson calls “true moral responsibility”) and (2) the distinction between the scope and degree of one’s moral responsibility.1 The failure to make such distinctions, ultimately, leads to confusion in interpreting the content of folk intuitions about moral responsibility, and as a result leads many philosophers to adopt watered down, or overly complex theories of moral responsibility. In “The Epistemic Requirements for Moral Responsibility,” Carl Ginet fails to make such distinctions, and as a result the requirement he arrives at is unwieldy at best. By making such distinctions, I will provide a much more straightforward account of what moral responsibility requires.