[SydPhil] Reminder: Nicole Vincent @ Mon 6 Aug 13:00 - 14:30 (Current Projects)

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Tue Jul 31 12:59:56 AEST 2012

This is a reminder for:

Title: Nicole Vincent
A diachronic account of moderateness in regards to reasons-responsiveness

Dr Nicole Vincent, Philosophy Departments at Macquarie University (AU) and  
TU Delft (NL)
(ver. 20120120)

People are responsible for what they do only if at the time of acting they  
have enough of the right kinds of mental capacities – e.g. cognitive and  
volitional ones – or if they are responsible for not having enough of the  
right kinds of mental capacities. John Fischer’s compatibilist theory of  
responsibility re-deploys this plausible idea by giving those mental  
capacities physical form — he says that we are responsible for those  
actions which issue from our own moderately reasons-responsive mechanisms,  
or when we are responsible for the fact that those mechanisms are not  
moderately reasons-responsive.

In Fischer's framework, moderately reasons-responsive mechanisms are  
physical embodiments of the mental capacities which are required for  
responsible moral agency. However, the first part of this paper argues that  
for the same reason why incompatibilists are unlikely to swoon over the  
first way of stating this idea – namely, because the only sense in which a  
deterministic universe can contain capacities is a sense that can not  
warrant reactive attitudes like blame and practices like retributive  
punishment – so too they are unlikely to set aside their incompatibilist  
concerns in light of Fischer’s way of stating this idea. Specifically, I  
argue that how a mechanism might behave in other possible worlds is hardly  
a consideration that can carry the heavy burden of justifying blaming or  
punishing someone for what they did in this actual world. In other words,  
although Fischer's conceptual analysis of the notion of moderateness in  
regards to reasons-responsiveness captures a plausible sense of the notion  
of "capacity", this conceptual analysis can not do the justificatory work  
of warranting reactive attitudes like blame and practices like retributive  

Being a compatibilist myself though, in the second part of this paper I  
also offer what I hope is a remedy. While Fischer would have us test for  
moderate reasons-responsiveness by checking how a given mechanism would  
behave during that time slice across a range of other possible worlds, I  
instead suggest that we should check how that mechanism will behave in this  
actual world over a span of time. I believe that my approach is superior  
because, unlike Fischer, I link my conceptual analysis of “capacity” to an  
inherently normative inquiry that is capable of carrying the burden of  
justifying blaming and punishing someone for what they did in the actual  
world — namely, to an investigation of the diachronic fairness of burdening  
and benefiting a person by exposing them to responsibility-holding  

When: Mon 6 Aug 13:00 – 14:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Philosophy Common Room, Main Quad, USYD
Calendar: Current Projects
     * kristiemiller4 at gmail.com- creator

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