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Traditional and Experimental Approaches to Free Will and Moral Responsibility

In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell. pp. 142-57 (2016)

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  1. What is the Difference Between Weakness of Will and Compulsion?August Gorman - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    Orthodoxy holds that the difference between weakness of will and compulsion is a matter of the resistibility of an agent’s effective motivation, which makes control-based views of agency especially well-equipped to distinguish blameworthy weak-willed acts from non-blameworthy compulsive acts. I defend an alternative view that the difference between weakness and compulsion instead lies in the fact that agents would upon reflection give some conative weight to acting on their weak-willed desires for some aim other than to extinguish them, but not (...)
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  • Explaining Away Epistemic Skepticism About Culpability.Gunnar Björnsson - 2017 - In Shoemaker David (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 141–164.
    Recently, a number of authors have suggested that the epistemic condition on moral responsibility makes blameworthiness much less common than we ordinarily suppose, and much harder to identify. This paper argues that such epistemically based responsibility skepticism is mistaken. Section 2 sketches a general account of moral responsibility, building on the Strawsonian idea that blame and credit relates to the agent’s quality of will. Section 3 explains how this account deals with central cases that motivate epistemic skepticism and how it (...)
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  • Weighing in on Decisions in the Brain: Neural Representations of Pre-Awareness Practical Intention.Robyn Repko Waller - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):5175-5203.
    Neuroscientists have located brain activity that prepares or encodes action plans before agents are aware of intending to act. On the basis of these findings and broader agency research, activity in these regions has been proposed as the neural realizers of practical intention. My aim in this paper is to evaluate the case for taking these neural states to be neural representations of intention. I draw on work in philosophy of action on the role and nature of practical intentions to (...)
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  • Responsibility, Determinism, and the Objective Stance: Using IAT to Evaluate Strawson’s Account of our ‘Incompatibilist’ Intuitions.Daniel Blair Cohen, Jeremy Goldring & Lauren Leigh Saling - 2021 - Neuroethics 14 (2):99-112.
    People who judge that a wrongdoer’s behaviour is determined are disposed, in certain cases, to judge that the wrongdoer cannot be responsible for his behaviour. Some try to explain this phenomenon by arguing that people are intuitive incompatibilists about determinism and moral responsibility. However, Peter Strawson argues that we excuse determined wrongdoers because judging that someone is determined puts us into a psychological state – ‘the objective stance’ – which prevents us from holding them responsible, not because we think that (...)
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  • Experimental Philosophy and Moral Responsibility.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - In Dana Kay Nelkin & Derk Pereboom (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Responsibility. Oxford University Press.
    Can experimental philosophy help us answer central questions about the nature of moral responsibility, such as the question of whether moral responsibility is compatible with determinism? Specifically, can folk judgments in line with a particular answer to that question provide support for that answer. Based on reasoning familiar from Condorcet’s Jury Theorem, such support could be had if individual judges track the truth of the matter independently and with some modest reliability: such reliability quickly aggregates as the number of judges (...)
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  • Replies to Critics.Carolina Sartorio - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1545-1556.
    I respond to the critical comments by Randolph Clarke, Alfred Mele, and Derk Pereboom on my book Causation and Free Will. I discuss some features of the view that our freedom is exclusively based on actual causes, including the role played in it by absences of reasons, absence causation, modal facts, and finally some additional thoughts on how a compatibilist can respond to the manipulation argument for incompatibilism.
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  • Outsourcing the Deep Self: Deep Self Discordance Does Not Explain Away Intuitions in Manipulation Arguments.Gunnar Björnsson - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (5):637-653.
    According to manipulation arguments for incompatibilism, manipulation might undermine an agent’s responsibility even when the agent satisfies plausible compatibilist conditions on responsibility. According to Sripada, however, empirical data suggest that people take manipulation to undermine responsibility largely because they think that the manipulated act is in discord with the agent’s “deep self,” thus violating the plausible compatibilist condition of deep self concordance. This paper defends Sripada’s general methodological approach but presents data that strongly suggest that, contrary to Sripada’s contention, most (...)
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  • Explaining (Away) the Epistemic Condition on Moral Responsibility.Gunnar Björnsson - 2017 - In Philip Robichaud & Jan Willem Wieland (eds.), Responsibility - The Epistemic Condition. Oxford University Press. pp. 146–162.
    It is clear that lack of awareness of the consequences of an action can undermine moral responsibility and blame for these consequences. But when and how it does so is controversial. Sometimes an agent believing that the outcome might occur is excused because it seemed unlikely to her, and sometimes an agent having no idea that it would occur is nevertheless to blame. A low or zero degree of belief might seem to excuse unless the agent “should have known better”, (...)
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  • Moral Psychology: Empirical Approaches.John Doris & Stephen Stich - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Moral psychology investigates human functioning in moral contexts, and asks how these results may impact debate in ethical theory. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on both the empirical resources of the human sciences and the conceptual resources of philosophical ethics. The present article discusses several topics that illustrate this type of inquiry: thought experiments, responsibility, character, egoism v . altruism, and moral disagreement.
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