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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Schauber


On attributionist theories of responsibility, an agent can only be responsible for some conduct if that conduct was genuinely her own. On most attributionist theories of responsibility, we do not hold agents responsible for conduct that they might perform while subject to some necessity. Agents who may be subject to some kind of necessity, we think, may feel compelled or constrained to act as they do; thus, they may not be able to act in accordance with what they take to be in their interests or in accordance with what they intend. For this reason, we may not be able to take their conduct to be genuinely their own, and we may not be able to attribute this conduct to them for the purposes of moral appraisal.

In this essay, I will argue that this is wrong: some conduct can be taken to be one’s own even if it is the result of one being constrained by some necessity. Specifically, I will argue that some action will be one’s own if one is constrained by volitional necessities1. The rest of the essay will proceed as follows: first, I will flesh out what it is for some conduct to be genuinely one’s own or for it to be attributable to an agent for the purposes of moral appraisal; second, I will suggest a situation where, contrary to our intuitions, the attributionist would argue that some conduct is not the agent’s own; third, I will discuss how some conduct can genuinely be the agent’s own when one is constrained by a volitional necessity; and last, I will suggest some attributionist objections to the argument that one’s conduct can genuinely be one’s own when constrained by a volitional necessity.