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Reasonable expectations, moral responsibility, and empirical data

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Abstract

Many philosophers think that a necessary condition on moral blameworthiness is that the wrongdoer can reasonably be expected to avoid the action for which she is blamed. Those who think so assume as a matter of course that the expectations at issue here are normative expectations that contrast with the non-normative or predictive expectations we form concerning the probable conduct of others, and they believe, or at least assume, that there is a clear-cut distinction between the two. In this paper I put this widespread assumption under scrutiny and argue that it’s mistaken: although predictive and normative expectations are indeed distinct, there is no sharp separation between them. On the contrary, predictive expectations can have a substantial bearing on normative expectations in two related ways: they can recalibrate what is reasonable to expect of agents when responsibility attributions are at stake and they can help to uncover previously undetected excusing conditions. I illustrate my claims with the famous bystander effect from social psychology and show that it yields predictive expectations that affect normative expectations in these two ways.
Reasonable expectations, moral responsibility,
and empirical data
Fernando Rudy-Hiller
1
Published online: 16 October 2019
Springer Nature B.V. 2019
Abstract Many philosophers think that a necessary condition on moral blame-
worthiness is that the wrongdoer can reasonably be expected to avoid the action for
which she is blamed. Those who think so assume as a matter of course that the
expectations at issue here are normative expectations that contrast with the non-
normative or predictive expectations we form concerning the probable conduct of
others, and they believe, or at least assume, that there is a clear-cut distinction
between the two. In this paper I put this widespread assumption under scrutiny and
argue that it’s mistaken: although predictive and normative expectations are indeed
distinct, there is no sharp separation between them. On the contrary, predictive
expectations can have a substantial bearing on normative expectations in two related
ways: they can recalibrate what is reasonable to expect of agents when responsi-
bility attributions are at stake and they can help to uncover previously undetected
excusing conditions. I illustrate my claims with the famous bystander effect from
social psychology and show that it yields predictive expectations that affect nor-
mative expectations in these two ways.
Keywords Reasonable expectations Predictions Excuses Blame Bystander
effect Fair opportunity
&Fernando Rudy-Hiller
ferudy@alumni.stanford.edu
1
Institute of Philosophical Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Circuito
Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, CP 04510 Mexico City, Mexico
123
Philos Stud (2020) 177:2945–2968
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-019-01354-5
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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Chapter
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Chapter
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Chapter
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