Who Knew?: Responsibility Without Awareness

Paperback | August 20, 2009

byGeorge Sher

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To be responsible for their acts, agents must both perform those acts voluntarily and in some sense know what they are doing. Of these requirements, the voluntariness condition has been much discussed, but the epistemic condition has received far less attention. In Who Knew? George Sher seeksto rectify that imbalance. The book is divided in two halves, the first of which criticizes a popular but inadequate way of understanding the epistemic condition, while the second seeks to develop a more adequate alternative. It is often assumed that agents are responsible only for what they areaware of doing or bringing about - that their responsibility extends only as far as the searchlight of their consciousness. The book criticizes this "searchlight view" on two main grounds: first, that it is inconsistent with our attributions of responsibility to a broad range of agents who shouldbut do not realize that they are acting wrongly or foolishly, and, second, that the view is not independently defensible. The book's positive view construes the crucial relation between an agent and his failure to recognize the wrongness or foolishness of what he is doing in causal terms: the agentis responsible when, and because, his failure to respond to his reasons for believing that he is acting wrongly or foolishly has its origins in the same constitutive psychology that generally does render him reason-responsive.

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To be responsible for their acts, agents must both perform those acts voluntarily and in some sense know what they are doing. Of these requirements, the voluntariness condition has been much discussed, but the epistemic condition has received far less attention. In Who Knew? George Sher seeksto rectify that imbalance. The book is divi...

George Sher is Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Philosophy at Rice University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:168 pages, 5.39 × 8.11 × 0.51 inPublished:August 20, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195389204

ISBN - 13:9780195389203

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements1. The Searchlight View2. Responsibility Without Awareness3. Responsibility and Practical Reason4. Kantian Fairness5. Knew - Or Should Have Known?6. A New Beginning7. Setting the Norms of Recognition8. The Responsible Self9. Out of ControlIndex