UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Personhood and responsibility Topornycky, Joseph Stephen


Understanding human behavior as caused by some combination of genetics, environment, and upbringing is often taken to undermine the belief that human beings can be truly morally responsible. The root of this problem is in an apparent conflict between the casual thesis and the idea of human beings as persons that is premised in moral responsibility. I argue that this con- flict is based on two related misunderstandings. Understood properly, moral responsibility is grounded in our affective responses to others modified by a reflective understanding of those responses under the idea of self-government according to standards. It is through a commitment to those standards that we come to be persons, understood as a distinct moral category.

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