The Modern Schoolman

Volume 88, Issue 1/2, January/April 2011

Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Alicia Finch
Pages 145-160

Experimental Philosophy and the Concept of Moral Responsibility

In recent years, so-called experimental philosophers have argued that participants in the moral responsibility debate ought to adopt a new methodology. In particular, they argue, the results of experimental surveys ought to be introduced into the debate. According to the experimental philosophers, these surveys are philosophically relevant because they provide information about the moral responsibility judgments that ordinary people make. Moreover, they argue, an account of moral responsibility is satisfactory only if it is tightly connected to ordinary judgments. The purpose of this paper is to undermine this argument. I will argue that experimental philosophers have not adequately acknowledged the distinction between metaphysics and conceptual analysis; they have not carefully distinguished what-it-is-to-be morally responsible from the concept of moral responsibility. I will draw this distinction, and then argue that metaphysicians qua metaphysicians may both ignore experimental data and offer an account of moral responsibility that satisfies the tight connection desideratum.