Is Responsible Essentially Impossible?


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Abstract

Part 1 reviews the general question of when elimination of an entity or property is warranted, as opposed to revision of our view of it. The connections of this issue with the distinction between context-driven and theory-driven accounts of reference and essence are probed. Context-driven accounts tend to be less hospitable to eliminativism than theory-driven accounts, but this tendency should not be overstated. However, since both types of account give essences explanatory depth, eliminativist claims associated with supposed impossible essences are problematic on both types of account.Part 2 applies these considerations to responsibility in particular. The impossibility of regressive choice or control is explained. It is argued that this impossibility does not support the claim that no one is ever responsible on either context-driven or theory-driven accounts of ‘responsibility’.

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