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Social Dimensions of Moral Responsibility$
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Katrina Hutchison, Catriona Mackenzie, and Marina Oshana

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190609610

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190609610.001.0001

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The Social Constitution of Agency and Responsibility

The Social Constitution of Agency and Responsibility

Oppression, Politics, and Moral Ecology

Chapter:
(p.110) 4 The Social Constitution of Agency and Responsibility
Source:
Social Dimensions of Moral Responsibility
Author(s):

Manuel R. Vargas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190609610.003.0005

Culpability under oppression is puzzling. On the one hand, it seems callous to insist that someone’s being subject to oppression is never relevant to her culpability. On the other hand, responsible agency exists under systematic disadvantage; insisting that oppression always undermines a person’s culpability seems too forgiving and disrespectful to those agents. One philosophical challenge that grows out of reflecting on these matters is whether there is a way to reconcile the thought that agency is socially constituted—a product of circumstance—with the thought that some psychological configurations rightly underpin our condemnatory practices, while others do not. This chapter offers a framework for thinking about these issues, especially the question of culpable action under conditions of oppression. The account maintains that oppression matters for culpability in some cases and not in others, because culpability is a function of the properties of agents and the context that shapes their agency.

Keywords:   moral responsibility, moral ecology, culpability, oppression, blame, moral agency

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