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Moral Responsibility

Under what conditions can human beings be held morally responsible for what they do? If our actions are determined by other influences, does that get us off the hook, or should we accept responsibility even in cases where we could not have done otherwise?

Practical examples are excellent tools for exploring our intuitions on this issue, so try to introduce at least one concrete case from your own experience for which you would accept full responsibility and one for which you would take no responsibility at all.

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Under what conditions can human beings be held morally responsible for what they do?

The answer to this question depends completely on who or what the absolute moral standard is. For people who argue that morals are relative then the answer is "humans can never be held morally responsible for any action because there is no absolute moral authority." This does not mean they cannot or will not be held legally or economically responsible for certain actions.

Just as an individual is held legally accountable only to the legal authority so they are held morally responsible only to the moral authority. My neighbor may witness me breaking the speed limit but has no authority over me and therefore I am not legally responsible to my neighbor for breaking the speed limit.

In America, the ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses moral responsibility and accountability. Over 550 words of original text from the perspective of the author who has over 15 years of experience teaching humanities, religion and ethics courses. No sources are included.

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