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Philosophy Department Colloquium Series: Julia Driver

Appraisability and Accountability: an Updated Humean Account
Following Hume, I argue that there is a difference between moral appraisability and moral accountability, and that in order to be morally accountable (or responsible) one needs to be a moral agent.  This theses struck many as counterintuitive because moral appraisability was thought to require a directed will – as Hutcheson discusses in his criticism of Hume, it was thought to involve a benevolently directed will in the case of positive moral appraisal.  I argue that this intuition about moral appraisability in general is compatible with the distinction between appraisability and accountability and Hume’s asymmetry thesis:  a being can be morally appraisable (in some respect) without being morally accountable (in that respect).  This essay explores the implications of the asymmetry thesis and offers an updated version of the Humean claim by bringing in discussion of the example of the psychopath.  A psychopath is appraisable in the ‘attributability’ sense, though not accountable, and by lacking any capacity to recognize moral reasons lacks full moral agency.  This, in turn, raises interesting issues regarding the function of blame, or negative moral appraisal.
Professor Julia Driver is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Philosophy Department Colloquia Series is an annual lecture series that features talks by invited speakers. Each colloquium typically take place every Friday afternoon at 3:15 pm during the academic year, however, there are exceptions, so please check our events webpage. All events are free and open to the public.



Friday, October 17, 2014. 03:15PM


Building 90, room 92Q, Main Quad


Department of Philosophy


650 723 2547


All events are free and open to the public.