Epistemic Responsibility and Criminal Negligence

Criminal Law and Philosophy 14 (1):91-111 (2020)
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We seem to be responsible for our beliefs in a distinctively epistemic way. We often hold each other to account for the beliefs that we hold. We do this by criticising other believers as ‘gullible’ or ‘biased’, and by trying to persuade others to revise their beliefs. But responsibility for belief looks hard to understand because we seem to lack control over our beliefs. In this paper, I argue that we can make progress in our understanding of responsibility for belief by thinking about it in parallel with another kind of responsibility: legal responsibility for criminal negligence. Specifically, I argue that that a popular account of responsibility for belief, which grounds it in belief’s reasons-responsiveness, faces a problem analogous to one faced by H.L.A. Hart’s influential capacity-based account of culpability. This points towards a more promising account of responsibility of belief, though, if we draw on accounts of negligence that improve on Hart’s. Broadly speaking, the account of negligence that improves on Hart’s account grounds culpability in a concern for others’ interests, whereas my account of epistemic responsibility grounds responsibility for belief in a concern for the truth.



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Alexander Greenberg
University of Southampton

Citations of this work

III—Doxastic Wrongs, Non-Spurious Generalizations and Particularized Beliefs.Cécile Fabre - 2022 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 122 (1):47-69.
Minding Negligence.Craig K. Agule - 2022 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 16 (2):231-251.
Mental agency and rational subjectivity.Lucy Campbell & Alexander Greenberg - 2024 - European Journal of Philosophy 32 (1):224-245.
Mental agency and rational subjectivity.Lucy Campbell & Alexander Greenberg - 2024 - European Journal of Philosophy 32 (1):224-245.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Responsibility for believing.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Synthese 161 (3):357-373.
Controlling attitudes.Pamela Hieronymi - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (1):45-74.

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