Moral and Criminal Responsibility: Answering and Refusing to Answer
20 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 14, 2017
Drawing on Gary Watson’s seminal work on responsibility, this paper focuses on what he calls accountability. It distinguishes (in s. 1), answerability from liability, and then concentrates on answerability, which operates, it argues (contra David Shoemaker), analogously in both moral and legal contexts. It discusses (in s. 2) the way in which answerability requires us to attend to the capacities of the person whom we hold responsible, not just at the time of the conduct for which he is now being held responsible, but at the time of the holding. In s. 3, it then attends to some implications of the requirement that when we hold someone answerable, we must be ready to listen to their answer. Finally, in s. 4, it tackles the issue of standing: what gives us the right to call another person to account; and what can undermine that standing — with what implications?
Keywords: Watson, Responsibility, Accountability, Answerability, Capacities, Standing
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