Draft version Pragmatist Sentimentalist View on the Social Function of Moral Responsibility

Please send me an email if you would like to read and comment on the paper (revisions due September 2016)


In this chapter I elaborate on what I call the “pragmatist sentimentalist” (PS) approach to understanding our practices of holding one another morally responsible for what we do and how we are.  The PS approach focusses on the communicative function of moral sentiments, such as resentment and blame, and their role in coordinating our shared practices. This is in contrast to the dominant approach I call “ontological-desert” (OD), which emphasizes whether or not people deserve to be subjected to those sentiments. I argue that the PS approach provides us with better tools to discuss the collective aspects of moral responsibility, as I will illustrate by a short comment on the contemporary discussion on our moral responsibility for implicit bias. In particular, I will highlight two aspects of our moral responsibility practices that are disclosed by the PS approach: it is by being held responsible that we are enabled to (1) develop certain agential capacities and (2) co-determine, consolidate, and fine-tune our normative expectations of one another.