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Grant number like: FB-53968-08

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Manuel Vargas
Regents of the University of California, San Diego (San Francisco, CA 94117-1050)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products][Prizes]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 6/30/2010

Beyond Atomism and Monism: A Revisionist View of Moral Responsibility

My aim is to answer recent philosophical and scientific puzzles about when, whether, and how we can be morally responsible. My account emphasizes three distinctive claims. First, I reject ATOMISM, or the view that the proper analysis of responsibility proceeds from analysis of the characteristics of agents, isolated from the social and physical contexts of action. I argue that responsible agency is partly constituted by social and psychological contexts. Second, I reject MONISM about free will, or the view that there is some single capacity or structure of agency that marks responsible agency. Instead, I argue that such agency is constituted by a varied set of capacities, picked out by our diverse practical interests in ascribing responsibility. Finally, I argue for REVISIONISM, the idea that an adequate theory of responsibility will depart from some parts of common sense. Together, these ideas provide a new framework for resolving ancient and recent problems of responsibility.