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Moral Psychology and Human AgencyPhilosophical Essays on the Science of Ethics$
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Justin D'Arms and Daniel Jacobson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198717812

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717812.001.0001

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Remnants of Character

Remnants of Character

Chapter:
(p.84) 4 Remnants of Character
Source:
Moral Psychology and Human Agency
Author(s):

David Shoemaker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717812.003.0004

Missing from P. F. Strawson’s list of pleas exempting one from the community of morally responsible agents is “He has dementia.” Why? It is the aim of this chapter to address this complicated, regularly ignored question, along with the more abstract (and fundamental) question of how we might approach discussion of these issues generally. It begins with a discussion of empirical findings regarding dementia, and then draws from these to figure out the relevant combination of incapacities in demented patients that grounds their exemption from the community of morally responsible agents. It also discusses the (ir)relevance of personal identity to the issue; why demented patients may nevertheless be morally responsible in a different sense. It introduces the idea of “care-commitment clusters” to explain cases of both seeming character change as well as partial character preservation in the demented and concludes by contrasting this to some treatments of the responsibility of children and the autonomy of the demented.

Keywords:   accountability, attributability, character, dementia, moral responsibility, personal identity, Strawson

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