Excuse, Capacity and Convention

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There are considerations – excuses – which reduce or eliminate responsibility for wrongdoing and so shield us from blame without casting doubt on the wrongfulness of our conduct. Many writers think that these excuses reflect the agent’s incapacity to do the right thing in the face of duress, provocation, exhaustion, etc. I shall suggest that the crucial thing is rather how much control one is obliged to exercise over one’s action, a requirement specified in a standard of culpability. This standard is distinct from the rules of conduct that determine what is right or wrong and it is often conventional. For example, social roles like that of soldier, engineer or parent have distinctive standards of culpability as well as rules of conduct associated with them and it is these standards which determine the range of excuses available to those who breach the rules of conduct.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Responsibility
EditorsMaximilian Kiener
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000990126, 9781003282242
ISBN (Print)9781032252391
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023


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