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Practical Intelligence and the Virtues$
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Daniel C. Russell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565795.001.0001

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Responsibility for Character

Responsibility for Character

(p.374) 12 Responsibility for Character
Practical Intelligence and the Virtues

Daniel C. Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Phronesis involves self-construction that is responsive to reasons, so the question arises whether and how far humans are capable of self-construction. This chapter considers that question with respect in particular to the possibility of being responsible for one's character. It begins by contrasting compatibilist and incompatibilist views of responsibility for character, and then rejects the common incompatibilist view that genuine responsibility is so-called “ultimate responsibility”. In particular, the chapter rejects the incompatibilist view that responsibility for character is necessarily backward-looking, i.e., responsibility for how one's character came to be formed. Rather, it argues that a certain forward-looking aspect of practical reasoning about one's character (called “critical distance”) is both necessary and sufficient for responsibility for one's character.

Keywords:   character, compatibilism, critical distance, Harry Frankfurt, incompatibilism, responsibility, self-construction

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