Responsibility and Freedom

J. R. Lucas

in The Freedom of the Will

Published in print September 1970 | ISBN: 9780198243434
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680687 | DOI:
Responsibility and Freedom

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Our concern with freedom is connected with our concept of responsibility. We set great store by our actions, and by being able to explain and justify them. Therefore, normally, we want to be held responsible, and claim our actions as our own. But sometimes we do not. Sometimes we want to disown an action others ascribe to us, occasionally out of modesty, usually because the action, as described, would bring us no credit. We cannot give a satisfactory answer to the question ‘Why did you do it?’, and sometimes can legitimately object to the question and say it is one which ought not to be asked of us, and which we cannot be required to answer. There are many different types of situation in which we feel that what appear to be actions are not really the actions of a person. Besides physiological conditions such as reflexes, spasms, tics, automatisms, and drunkenness, we now would reckon some psychological conditions — kleptomania, for example — to preclude putative actions from really being actions.

Keywords: responsibility; freedom; actions; physiological conditions; psychological conditions

Chapter.  2693 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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