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Consciousness and Moral Responsibility$
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Neil Levy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704638.001.0001

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Consciousness and the Real Self

Consciousness and the Real Self

(p.87) 5 Consciousness and the Real Self
Consciousness and Moral Responsibility

Neil Levy

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins the substantive work of establishing that consciousness is a necessary condition of moral responsibility by examining the “real self” account of moral responsibility associated with Angela Smith, Nomy Arpaly, and others. On this account, agents are responsible for actions that express their real selves. This chapter argues that such expression requires consciousness, because only when the agent is conscious of the facts which give to her actions their moral significance are those facts assessed for conflict and consistency with the attitudes that make her the agent she is. I claim that this rules out moral responsibility for actions performed by agents who experience pathologies of agency, but also those of ordinary agents who just happen not to be conscious of the facts that give to their actions their moral significance.

Keywords:   Nomy Arpaly, Angela Smith, real self theory, moral significance, expression

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