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Real Materialismand Other Essays$
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Galen Strawson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267422.001.0001

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The Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility

The Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility

Chapter:
(p.319) 13 The Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility
Source:
Real Materialism
Author(s):

Galen Strawson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267422.003.0014

If we are to be truly or ultimately morally responsible for what we do, we must be truly or ultimately responsible for how we are, at least in certain mental respects. This is because what we intentionally do is a function of how we are, mentally speaking. But we cannot be ultimately responsible for how we are, either mentally speaking or in any other respect. Nothing can be the ultimate cause of itself in any respect. Even if God can be, we can't be. Given the concept of moral responsibility that is culturally fundamental in the West, this argument may be used to show that ultimate moral responsibility is provably impossible.

Keywords:   free will, moral responsibility, ultimate responsibility, determinism, indeterminism, randomness, choice, action, libertarianism, punishment

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