Moral Responsibility Reconsidered: Integrating Chance, Choice and Constraint
International Journal of Philosophy
Volume 7, Issue 2, June 2019, Pages: 48-54
Received: Feb. 4, 2019; Accepted: Mar. 15, 2019; Published: Apr. 9, 2019
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Abraham Rudnick, Department of Psychiatry and School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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Clarity is needed regarding moral responsibility, for theoretical and practical purposes, such as philosophical coherence and social regulation. In this article, I examine the notion of (individual) moral responsibility. I first dispense with a preliminary concern, that the notion of moral responsibility can be used in at least two distinct ways, which I argue are necessarily related and hence can be jointly addressed in this article. I then elaborate on what I consider to be the three key tenets of the proposed theoretical approach: chance, choice and constraint (which can hence be termed the 3Cs theory of responsibility); specifically, I consider chance as indeterminate (although calculable), whereas choice and constraint are determined by chance and by each other. I then integrate these tenets to form a rudimentary yet useful theory of (individual) moral responsibility, particularly referring to the iterative process of chance, choice and constraint. And then I apply this theory to three sufficiently dissimilar types of situations of ascending complexity: the responsibility of a democratically elected politician regarding his or her public communication, the responsibility of a person with psychosis regarding his or her psychosis-related behavior, and the responsibility of a parent regarding his or her dependent child’s upbringing. Finally, I summarize and attend to special and general implications of my conclusions, such as the importance of considering expected – rather than actual – impact of chance, choice and constraint, during moral deliberation for assignment of (individual) moral responsibility.
Chance, Choice, Constraint, Individual, Moral, Responsibility
To cite this article
Abraham Rudnick, Moral Responsibility Reconsidered: Integrating Chance, Choice and Constraint, International Journal of Philosophy. Vol. 7, No. 2, 2019, pp. 48-54. doi: 10.11648/j.ijp.20190702.11
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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