Towards a better understanding of morally responsible agency

Date
2021-05
Advisor
Wringe, William Giles
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Bilkent University
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English
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Thesis
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Abstract

In this thesis, I defend P. F. Strawson’s distinction of internal-external problems to our ideas of moral responsibility practices. Then, I introduce the problems of superbad people as some serious internal problems. What I call Moral Personality Disorders, like narcissism, and deep-seated racism can be some instances of being superbad. I argue that just being superbad may make blame unintelligible for the blamed person, may make reactions like sadness appropriate to him, and may make blame an obstacle to finding deep roots of his problem and some effective solutions for it. I conclude that these problems prove the need for some substantial modifications in our ideas of moral responsibility. I ground a new account of responsibility based on what I introduce as one’s quality of valuing (QV) and a historical condition of responsibility. The historical condition, I argue, is met through a Responsibility Chain: 1) We are responsible for our actions/choices as much as they are up to our QV at the time of doing them. 2) We are responsible for our QV at any given time as much as it is up to our previous actions/choices. As its negative force, the Responsibility Chain shows that the credit and discredit of our actions/choices cannot go to a self over than, and beyond to, the Responsibility Chain of our lives. The Responsibility Chain also shows why superbad (and supergood) people are some natural results of human nature and how we should react to them.

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Keywords
Moral responsibility, Blame, Personality disorders, Quality of will, Valuing
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Published Version (Please cite this version)