Allen, Anita L., and . Mental Disorders and the “System of Judgmental Responsibility”

2010, Boston University Law Review 90: 621-640.

Diversifying SyllabiThesis: Those affected by mental disorders whose actions are episodically influenced by their disorder are often overlooked by philosophers of moral and ethical responsibility. Allen gives us reasons for thinking it is inappropriate to either:

a) “summarily exclude people with mental problems out of the universe of moral agents, reducing them to the status of rocks, trees, animals, and infants”
b) “include the group on the false assumption that their moral lives are precisely like the paradigmatic moral lives of the epistemically-sound and well-regulated people never personally touched by a mental condition”

We must explore a revised approach to moral and ethical responsibility and obligation for this group.

Comment: This text is useful in teaching in two main contexts: (1) in discussing ethical issues related to mental disorders; and (2) to provide a challenging case in classes on blame and responsibility. The text can be also used in the context of the free will and determinism debate, and as a further reading in classes on moral agency.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony, and . In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture

1992, Oxford University Press.

Back matter: Africa’s intellectuals have long been engaged in a conversation with each other, and with Europeans and Americans about what it means to be African. At the heart of these debates on African identity are the seminal works of politicians, creative writers and philosophers from Africa and its diaspora. In this book, Appiah draws on his experiences as a Ghanaian in the New World to explore the writings of these African and African-American thinkers and to contribute his own vision of the possibilities and pitfalls of an African identity in the late twentieth century. Appiah sets out to dismantle the specious oppositions between “us” and “them,” the West and the Rest, that have governed so much of the cultural debate about Africa in the modern world. All of us, he maintains, wherever we live on the planet, must explore together the relations between our local cultures and an increasingly global civilization. Combining philosophical analysis with more personal reflections, Appiah addresses the major issues in the philosophy of culture through an exploration of the contemporary African predicament.

Comment: Chapters 1 & 2 can be particularly useful in teaching on the social construction of race.

Frowe, Helen, and . Defensive Killing: An Essay on War and Self-Defence

2014, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Abstract: Most people believe that it is sometimes morally permissible for a person to use force to defend herself or others against harm. In Defensive Killing, Helen Frowe offers a detailed exploration of when and why the use of such force is permissible. She begins by considering the use of force between individuals, investigating both the circumstances under which an attacker forfeits her right not to be harmed, and the distinct question of when it is all-things-considered permissible to use force against an attacker. Frowe then extends this enquiry to war, defending the view that we should judge the ethics of killing in war by the moral rules that govern killing between individuals. She argues that this requires us to significantly revise our understanding of the moral status of non-combatants in war. Non-combatants who intentionally contribute to an unjust war forfeit their rights not to be harmed, such that they are morally liable to attack by combatants fighting a just war.

Comment: This text should be used in modules focused on self-defense, responsibility, and justice.

Haji, Ishtiyaque, and . Moral appraisability: puzzles, proposals, and perplexities

1998, New York: Oxford University Press.

Back matter: This book explores the epistemic or knowledge requirement of moral responsibility. Haji argues that an agent can be blamed (or praised) only if the agent harbors a belief that the action in question is wrong (or right or obligatory). Defending the importance of an “authenticity” condition when evaluating moral responsibility, Haji holds that one cannot be morally responsible for an action unless the action issues from sources (like desires or beliefs) that are truly the agent’s own. Engaging crucial arguments in moral theory to elaborate his views on moral responsibility, Haji addresses as well fascinating, underexamined topics such as assigning blame across an intercultural gap and the relevance of unconscious or dream thoughts when evaluating responsibility.

Comment: Chapter 3 is particularly useful in teaching about moral responsibility, free will and determinism. Chapter 12 provides an interesting discussion of relations between blameworthiness and cultural determination.

Haksar, Vinit, and . The responsibility of psychopaths

1965, The philosophical quarterly 15(59): 135-145.

Content: The paper examines various arguments looking at the responsibility psychopaths bear for their immoral actions, using neurological knowledge about psychopathy.

Comment: Useful in teaching about the 'mad or bad' dilemma, and about responsibility and issues in psychiatric ethics in general.

Hurley, Susan, and . Luck and Equality

2001, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75: 51-72.

Abstract: I argue that the aim to neutralize the influence of luck on distribution cannot provide a basis for egalitarianism: it can neither specify nor justify an egalitarian distribution. Luck and responsibility can play a role in determining what justice requires to be redistributed, but from this we cannot derive how to distribute: we cannot derive a pattern of distribution from the ‘currency’ of distributive justice. I argue that the contrary view faces a dilemma, according to whether it understands luck in interpersonal or counterfactual terms.

Comment: Useful as further reading on distributive justice, especially in connection to Ronald Dworkin's resource-egalitarian theory and Gerald Cohen's egalitarianism.

Olsaretti, Serena, and . Freedom, Force and Choice: Against the Rights-Based Definition of Voluntariness

1998, Journal of Political Philosophy 6(1): 53-78.

Introduction: This paper argues that a moralised definition of voluntariness, alongside the more familiar moralised definition of freedom, underlies libertarian justifications of the unbridled market. Through an analysis of Nozick’s account of voluntary choice, I intend to reveal some fatal mistakes, and to put forward some suggestions regarding what a satisfactory account of voluntary choice requires.

Comment: Offers a number of influential criticisms of Nozickian libertarianism and goes on to lay out the basis for Olsaretti's own influential account of voluntariness. Would make a good required reading or further reading.

Olsaretti, Serena, and . The Concept of Voluntariness – A Reply

2008, Journal of Political Philosophy 16(1): 165-188.

Abstract: In his paper on ‘The Concept of Voluntariness’, Ben Colburn helpfully takes up the task of developing my view about the sense of voluntariness that is relevant for judgments of substantive responsibility, or judgments about individuals’ liability to pick up some costs of their choices. On my view, a necessary condition for holding people responsible for their choices is that those choices be voluntary in the sense that they are not made because there is no acceptable alternative, where the standard for the acceptability of options is an objective standard of well-being. […] Colburn’s first point is entirely well-taken. By way of endorsing it, I ask whether we are justified in taking some but not all kinds of beliefs to affect the voluntariness of choice, as his elaboration of my view suggests. However, I find Colburn’s second point less convincing, and argue that we should allow for the moral character of options to affect the voluntariness of choice.

Comment: Short debate article responding to some criticisms of Olsaretti's account of voluntariness made by Ben Colburn and probably best read in conjunction with Colburn's article. Does a good job of responding to the criticisms and explaining her account. Good further reading for teaching about voluntariness and autonomy.

Oshana, Marina, and . Personal Autonomy and Society

1998, Journal of Social Philosophy 29(1): 81–102.

Content: Oshana argues against ‘internalist’ theories of autonomy that focus exclusively on psychological conditions internal to the agent – what goes on inside her head – and suggests instead that certain social relations must obtain between the agent and those around her for genuine autonomy to be possible.

Comment: Oshana argues that personal autonomy is a socio-relational phenomenon partially constructed by external, social relations. She also offers an interesting and detailed critique of internalist accounts, which makes the text very useful in teaching on autonomy and free will in general. The text is best used as a further reading in undergraduate and a more central required reading in postgraduate teaching. It offers a good synopsis of Gerald Dworkin's influential conception of autonomy.

Roskies, Adina L., and . Neuroscientific challenges to free will and responsibility

2006, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10(9): 419-423.

Abstract: Recent developments in neuroscience raise the worry that understanding how brains cause behavior will undermine our views about free will and, consequently, about moral responsibility. The potential ethical consequences of such a result are sweeping. I provide three reasons to think that these worries seemingly inspired by neuroscience are misplaced. First, problems for common-sense notions of freedom exist independently of neuroscientific advances. Second, neuroscience is not in a position to undermine our intuitive notions. Third, recent empirical studies suggest that even if people do misconstrue neuroscientific results as relevant to our notion of freedom, our judgments of moral responsibility will remain largely unaffected. These considerations suggest that neuroethical concerns about challenges to our conception of freedom are misguided.

Comment: Roskies offers an overview of the debate, providing useful glossary of positions related to it together with a graph representing the relations between them. This can be particularly useful when explaining the differences between the metaphysical, epistemic and ethical claims made in this debate.