admin June 14, 2019

Abstract

In the theoretical literature on moral responsibility, one sometimes comes across cases of manipulated agents. In cases of this type, the agent is a victim of wholesale manipulation, involving the implantation of various pro-attitudes (desires, values, etc.) along with the deletion of competing pro-attitudes. As a result of this manipulation, the agent ends up performing some action unlike any that she would have performed were it not for the manipulation. These sorts of cases are sometimes thought to motivate historical views of responsibility, on which the agent’s past is relevant to whether she is responsible for a specific action. In a recent paper, Daniel Sharp and David Wasserman bring these theoretical discussions on moral responsibility to bear on practical issues regarding neurological modifications of individuals. After proposing and arguing for a historical view, Sharp and Wasserman offer some insight into how such a view may help us in determining the responsibility of subjects who have undergone Deep Brain Stimulation. This paper aims to join this discussion, by arguing that the correct historical view to be applied will also appeal to the agent’s control over her mental life and the fact that this was bypassed. I conclude with some brief comments on the practical implications of such a historical view.

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