Prof. Erasmus Mayr: "Character, Pure Omissions and Responsibility"
What distinguishes moral blame from other forms of blame? And how can an answer to this question help us to better understand moral responsibility and its characteristics?
Peter Strawson famously argued in "Freedom and Resentment" that free will and moral responsibility cannot be understood independently from those emotional reactions with which we naturally respond to the good and ill-will in the behaviour of others towards us. Following him, a growing number of philosophers, from the 1990s onwards have tried to explain responsibility in terms of the normative adequacy of reactions such as moral blame. However, in doing so, they have insufficiently appreciated the specific characteristics of moral blame, in contrast to other forms of blame. I will discuss what distinguishes moral blame from these other forms, and how an adequate understanding of its particular characteristics helps us to better understand moral responsibility and its characteristics. I will also try to show that in this way we can fill out an important gap in the Neo-Strawsonian account, which concerns the conditions for responsibility for so-called pure omissions.