Habit, Omission and Responsibility

Topoi 40 (3):695-705 (2020)
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Given the pervasiveness of habit in human life, the distinctive problems posed by habitual acts for accounts of moral responsibility deserve more attention than they have hitherto received. But whereas it is hard to find a systematic treatment habitual acts within current accounts of moral responsibility, proponents of such accounts have turned their attention to a topic which, I suggest, is a closely related one: unwitting omissions. Habitual acts and unwitting omissions raise similar issues for a theory of responsibility because they likewise invite us to rethink the assumption that moral responsibility requires awareness of the relevant features of one’s conduct. And given the increasing interest in the problem of responsibility for unwitting omissions, it is reasonable to expect that the theoretical moves made in response to this problem might be used to make sense of judgments of responsibility regarding habitual acts. I substantiate these points by inquiring into whether some well-known accounts of unwitting omissions can be used to explain how we can be responsible for things we do out of habit.



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Christos Douskos
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Citations of this work

Bystander Omissions and Accountability for Testimonial Injustice.J. Y. Lee - 2021 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 29 (4):519-536.

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References found in this work

Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.
Responsibility From the Margins.David Shoemaker - 2015 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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