Topic: The Calculus of the Moral Community (co-authored with Robert H. Wallace)

Those working on the theory of moral responsibility often make reference to a moral community of some kind. Roughly, the moral community consists of those persons who (i) we believe we can fittingly hold morally responsible for their actions, and (ii) we believe can fittingly hold us morally responsible for our own actions. Much ink has been spilled concerning the correct extension of the moral community: are psychopaths within circle? Extreme evil doers? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the actual extension of moral communities in the real world deviates from the philosopher’s intuitions concerning the appropriate extension. This paper develops a simple model explaining why actual moral communities take the shape they do. That is, we develop a model that attempts to explain why some persons are included or excluded from the set of persons in an actual moral community. We think that we are able to explain the size and shape of actual moral communities in terms of two parameters. This is normatively significant. For, as we shall argue, changing actual moral communities so they look more like ideal moral communities then reduces to the manipulation of two parameters.

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