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Equal Rights for Zombies?: Phenomenal Consciousness and Responsible Agency

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Intuitively, moral responsibility requires conscious awareness of what one is doing, and why one is doing it, but what kind of awareness is at issue? Neil Levy argues that phenomenal consciousness -- the qualitative feel of conscious sensations -- is entirely unnecessary for moral responsibility. He claims that only access consciousness -- the state in which information (e.g. from perception or memory) is available to an array of mental systems (e.g. such that an agent can deliberate and act upon that information) -- is relevant to moral responsibility. I argue that numerous ethical, epistemic, and neuroscientific considerations entail that the capacity for phenomenal consciousness is necessary for moral responsibility. I focus in particular on considerations inspired by P.F. Strawson, who puts a range of qualitative moral emotions -- the reactive attitudes -- front and centre in the analysis of moral responsibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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