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Moral responsibility and the problem of manipulation reconsidered

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Abstract:

It has been argued that all compatibilist accounts of free action and moral responsibility succumb to the manipulation problem: evil neurologists or their like may manipulate an agent, in the absence of the agent's awareness of being so manipulated, so that when the agent performs an action, requirements of the compatibilist contender at issue are satisfied. But intuitively, the agent is not responsible for the action. We propose that the manipulation problem be construed as a problem of deviance. In troubling cases of manipulation, psychological elements such as desires and beliefs, among other things, are acquired via causal routes that are deviant relative to causal routes deemed normal or baseline . We develop and defend rudiments of a baseline that is acceptable independently of whether one has compatibilist or incompatibilist leanings.

Keywords: authenticity; compatibilism; free will; incompatibilism; moral responsibility; the manipulation problem

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0967255042000278076

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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