Carlos Moya (Universitat de València): Responsibility, Control, and Expression

28 October, 2022 @ 11:15 am – 12:30 pm




The philosophical tradition has assumed the existence of a close relationship between moral responsibility and freedom. Freedom can be understood as a capacity of control over our decisions and actions. On this traditional perspective, exercising that capacity is necessary to be morally responsible for our actions. Three forms of control have been especially important in this tradition: volitional (voluntariness), cognitive (awareness), and plural (alternatives). This close relationship between freedom and moral responsibility has placed the problem of the compatibility or incompatibility between freedom/moral responsibility and determinism at the center of the debate. However, the question of moral responsibility has recently gained an increasing autonomy and independence from the problem of freedom. Some important milestones in this direction have been Peter Strawson and Robert Adams, as well as reflection on the problem of moral luck. The development of this alternative point of view has given rise to what is sometimes called “attributionism”, according to which one can be morally responsible for actions, and even for attitudes, without having volitional, cognitive, or plural control over them. What makes someone responsible for such things is not that they are had or performed freely, but rather that they are expressions of certain mental features of the agent. On this approach, the truth or falsity of determinism becomes almost irrelevant to moral responsibility. I present these two views of moral responsibility as well as a way of reconciling them based on a distinction between two “faces” of responsibility (Watson). I finally suggest that we could have a unified conception of responsibility that retains advantages of each approach while avoiding its main difficulties.


Please note that it starts 15 minutes earlier than usual and takes place at Sala de Graus. For more information click here.