The Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility (trans. Jacek Jarocki)

  • Galen Strawson University of Texas w Austin, USA
Keywords: free will; moral responsibility; causa sui; determinism; indeterminism; Galen Strawson


The problem of moral responsibility occupies a central place in the discussions concerning free will. It is generally held that it has far-reaching consequences for social life and law. However, as Galen Strawson argues, it is impossible to be morally responsible for one's own actions. The argument runs as follows: a person decides one way or another on the basis of his character, personality traits or other mental respects. However, one cannot be responsible for those features—it seems obvious that they are caused by factors one cannot be responsible for, such as one's upbringing or genes. Hence the only way to be morally responsible is to be causa sui, i.e. the cause of oneself. It is widely acknowledged though that nothing can be causa sui. It follows that moral responsibility is impossible.


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