Responsibility for Evil

John Kekes

in The Human Condition

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199588886
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191595448 | DOI:
Responsibility for Evil

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Agents are evil if they habitually perform evil actions and have no morally justifiable excuse. The widely shared view that agents are responsible only for their intentional actions is shown to be untenable. The view advanced, explained, and defended in this chapter is that agents are responsible for the readily foreseeable consequences of their actions. To be responsible is to be liable to moral blame, which may or may not include punishment. Evil actions may be excused if the agent was unable to foresee the readily foreseeable consequences of the actions, or if the action was necessary for preventing worse evil, or if there were certain specifiable mitigating circumstances. Full and mitigated responsibility are distinguished and their conditions are explained and defended.

Keywords: full and mitigated responsibility; foreseeable consequences; reflexivity of evil; intention; moral blame

Chapter.  8566 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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