The Ethics and Law of Omissions

ISBN : 9780190683450

Dana Kay Nelkin; Samuel C. Rickless
248 ページ
156 x 235 mm

This volume explores the principles that govern moral responsibility and legal liability for omissive conduct. Many of this book's contributors try to make sense of the possibility of moral responsibility for omissions, including those that occur unwittingly. The disagreements among them concern the grounds of moral responsibility in these cases: the constellation of states and traits that constitute the self, or the quality of one's will, or exercises of evaluative judgment, or the ability and opportunity to avoid the omission, or the tracing back to a time when one had the witting ability to take steps to avoid future omission. Some contributors consider whether omissions need to be under one's control if one is to be morally responsible for them, as well as which sense of " is relevant, if it is, to the question of moral responsibility. Yet others consider whether it is possible for an agent to be morally responsible for an omission that she could not have avoided. On the legal side, the volume also considers various issues concerning the status of omissions in the law: whether circumstances that are usually described as involving legal liability for omissions are better described as involving legal liability for entire courses of conduct; the conditions (such as creation of the peril) under which one can be legally liable for an omission to rescue; why a defendant's legal guilt for a crime can be predicated on an omission to act only if the defendant was under a legal duty to engage in the omitted act; and whether this " is grounded in the desirability of shielding from legal liability those who are not criminally culpable or in the constraint that one's body and property may not be appropriated for the general good.


Introduction: Dana Kay Nelkin and Samuel C. Rickless

Part I: Omissions, Moral Responsibility, and the Self
1. Unintentional Omissions: George Sher
2. Omission and Attribution Error: Matthew Talbert
3. Unconscious Omissions, Reasonable Expectations, and Responsibility:
Angela M. Smith

Part II: Omissions, Moral Responsibility, and Control
4. Blameworthiness and Unwitting Omissions: Randolph Clarke
5. Omissions, Agency, and Control: Michael J. Zimmerman
6. Moral Responsibility for Unwitting Omissions: A New Tracing View:
Dana Kay Nelkin and Samuel C. Rickless

Part III: Omissions, Moral Responsibility, and Alternative Possibilities
7. The Puzzle(s) of Frankfurt-Style Omission Cases: Carolina Sartorio
8. Responsibility and Omissions: John Martin Fischer
Part IV: Criminal Liability for Omissions
9. Courses of Conduct: Douglas Husak
10. Duties to Act Triggered by Creation of the Peril: Easy Cases, Puzzling Cases, and
Complex Culpability: Larry Alexander
Part V: The Duty Requirement in the Criminal Law of Omissions
11. The Duty Requirement: Gideon Yaffe
12. Omissions, Acts, and the Duty to Rescue: Kimberly Kessler Ferzan


Dana Kay Nelkin (B.A. University of Texas 1988; Ph.D. UCLA 1995) is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. Her areas of research include ethics and moral psychology, and she has written articles on a variety of topics including forgiveness, friendship, self-deception, and the lottery paradox, as well as a book, Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility.; Samuel C. Rickless (B.A. Harvard 1986; B.Phil. Oxford 1988; Ph.D. UCLA 1996) is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. His areas of research include ethics, philosophy of law, ancient Greek philosophy, and early modern western European philosophy. He has authored books on Plato, Berkeley, and Locke, and has co-edited a volume on the ethics of war.