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Oxford Studies in Experimental PhilosophyVolume 1$
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Joshua Knobe, Tania Lombrozo, and Shaun Nichols

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718765.001.0001

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Attributing Responsibility

Attributing Responsibility

Actual and Counterfactual Worlds

Chapter:
(p.91) 4 Attributing Responsibility
Source:
Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy
Author(s):

Tobias Gerstenberg

David A. Lagnado

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718765.003.0005

How do people attribute responsibility to individuals in a group? Several models in psychology predict a close relationship between counterfactuals and responsibility. The chapter first reviews these models and points out a major limitation: people sometimes hold individuals responsible, even though the group outcome was not counterfactually dependent on their contribution. The chapter proposes a modeling framework that conceptualizes responsibility attributions in terms of richer counterfactuals defined over structured causal models. Using this framework, it shows that an individual’s responsibility increases, the closer their contribution was to making a difference to the outcome. Furthermore, the chapter demonstrates that retrospective responsibility attributions are affected by a person’s prospective responsibility: individuals whose contributions are perceived to be more critical for the team’s success receive more responsibility for the outcome.

Keywords:   responsibility, attribution, causality, counterfactuals, overdetermination, criticality

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