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Responsible agency and the importance of moral audience

Jefferson, Anneli ORCID: and Sifferd, Katrina 2023. Responsible agency and the importance of moral audience. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 , pp. 361-375. 10.1007/s10677-023-10385-1

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Ecological accounts of responsible agency claim that moral feedback is essential to the reasons-responsiveness of agents. In this paper, we discuss McGeer’s scaffolded reasons-responsiveness account in the light of two concerns. The first is that some agents may be less attuned to feedback from their social environment but are nevertheless morally responsible agents – for example, autistic people. The second is that moral audiences can actually work to undermine reasons-responsiveness if they espouse the wrong values. We argue that McGeer’s account can be modified to handle both problems. Once we understand the specific roles that moral feedback plays for recognizing and acting on moral reasons, we can see that autistics frequently do rely on such feedback, although it often needs to be more explicit. Furthermore, although McGeer is correct to highlight the importance of moral feedback, audience sensitivity is not all that matters to reasons-responsiveness; it needs to be tempered by a consistent application of moral rules. Agents also need to make sure that they choose their moral audiences carefully, paying special attention to receiving feedback from audiences which may be adversely affected by their actions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1386-2820
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 16 March 2023
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 19:14

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