Narrative capacity and moral responsibility

Social Philosophy and Policy 36 (1):93-113 (2019)


:My main aim in this essay is to argue that “narrative capacity” is a genuine feature of our mental lives and a skill that enables us to become full-fledged morally responsible agents. I approach the issue from the standpoint of reasons-responsiveness. Reasons-responsiveness theories center on the idea that moral responsibility requires sufficient sensitivity to reasons. I argue that our capacity to understand and tell stories has an important role to play in this sensitivity. Without such skill we would be cut off from the full range of reasons to which moral agents need access and/or we would be deficient in the ability to weigh the reasons that we recognize. After arguing for the relevance of narrative skill, I argue that understanding the connection between reasons-sensitivity and narrative confers additional benefits. It illuminates important psychological structures and helps to explain some cases of diminished blame.

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Meghan Griffith
Davidson College

References found in this work

Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Narrative Explanation.J. David Velleman - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):1-25.
Caring and Internality.Agnieszka Jaworska - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (3):529-568.

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