You are here

Manipulation, Moral Responsibility, and History

Title: Manipulation, Moral Responsibility, and History.
Name(s): De Marco, Gabriel Esteban, author
Mele, Alfred R., 1951-, professor directing dissertation
Twiss, Sumner B., university representative
Clarke, Randolph K., committee member
Kearns, Stephen, 1979-, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of Philosophy, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Doctoral Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2018
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (259 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: It is commonly thought that external influences such as indoctrination, coercion, and subtle manipulation can affect our status as morally responsible agents. In extreme cases, external interventions may undermine our moral responsibility altogether. Some philosophers seek to benefit from these considerations in arguing against compatibilism, the thesis that moral responsibility is compatible with the truth of determinism. Usually we get a case of some agent in a deterministic universe who, through the workings of some nefarious manipulator, has had many of his desires, values, or pro-attitudes erased and replaced by alien ones which then lead him to perform some action. The premises of the argument claim that 1) this agent is not responsible for his action, and 2) with regards to moral responsibility, there is no relevant difference between the manipulated agent and a standard agent in a deterministic universe. One type of response to the manipulation argument involves offering a parallel argument. First, one produces a case similar to the one offered in the original argument, but which involves an agent who fulfills standard incompatibilist conditions on responsibility. In this sort of case, the agent has a choice between two actions, and right before the decision is made, it is not determined which choice they will make. In a well-constructed case, both options available to the agent are radically different than anything that the agent would have considered prior to the manipulation, and it seems as though we get the same intuitions about this indeterministic agent. One upshot of this strategy is that it allows us to avoid the compatibility debate and simply focus on the effects of external interventions on our responsibility. The next step is to either show that these external interventions are not real threats to responsibility or to provide a view which explains what precisely is problematic about these external interventions. I focus on attempts to do the latter. Specifically, I focus on attempts to do so which require that the motivational states that led the agent to action were not acquired in a certain way. I evaluate the three major historical accounts available, those offered by Haji and Cuypers, Fischer and Ravizza, and Mele. My aim is to identify the features of the external interventions that are doing the work in undermining the responsibility of these agents. Taking the lessons learned from these chapters, I lay the groundwork for an explanation of why victims of extreme manipulation are not responsible. I further extend this framework to less extreme cases of external intervention, cases which may be more common in the actual world. Those features that undermine responsibility in extreme cases may be present to a lesser degree in cases where interventions mitigate, rather than eliminate, an agent’s responsibility.
Identifier: 2018_Su_DeMarco_fsu_0071E_14641 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Philosophy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester 2018.
Date of Defense: June 22, 2018.
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Alfred Mele, Professor Directing Dissertation; Sumner B. Twiss, University Representative; Randolph Clarke, Committee Member; Stephen Kearns, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Philosophy
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
De Marco, G. E. (2018). Manipulation, Moral Responsibility, and History. Retrieved from