I interpret responsible agency as a form of accountable agency: in judging a person responsible, we are saying the person is accountable for her behavior, in the sense that we think it appropriate that the person offer an explanation of her intentions or beliefs about her behavior.  Over the years I have argues that responsible persons are accountable, meaning that they are alert to normative reasons in support of or in opposition to their behavior, and able to respond to reasons for action bearing normative force because these reasons have normative force.  Most recently (in The Importance of How We See Ourselves), I have claimed that accountable persons are unified agents, a status that calls for an admixture of being oneself, of agency—of authorship, executive control, and intentionality in thought and action, and of ownership.


Among the papers I have written on the subject of responsibility are:

  • “Responsibility: Philosophical Perspectives,” International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier Press, 2002.  Revised for new edition, September 2012.
  • “Moral Accountability,” Philosophical Topics, special issue on Agency, vol. 32, nos. 1/2, Spring and Fall 2004, pp. 255-74. [Published in 2006.]
  • “Ascriptions of Responsibility,” American Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 34, No. 1, January, 1997, pp. 71-83.  Reprinted in John Martin Fischer, ed., Free Will: Critical Concepts in Philosophy (Routledge, June 2005).  Reprinted in Carl Wellman, ed., and Lawrence C. Becker, series ed., Rights and Duties (Ethical Investigations), (Routledge, June, 2002).
  • “Wanton Responsibility,” Journal of Ethics, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1998, pp. 261-276.