Does Aristotle have a conception of moral responsibility? A prominent feature of his treatment of the virtues of character, in both ethical treatises, is an extended account of voluntariness. He announces the topic by noting that praise and blame are directed at what is voluntary, and that voluntary agents are the cause (aitios) or origin (archê) of their actions (EE 1222b15–29; EN 1109b30–35). Clearly he is interested in voluntariness as a causal notion, and so we may attribute to him an interest in responsibility (where ‘responsible’ means simply ‘the cause of’). But is the sort of responsibility Aristotle has in mind moral responsibility?

A few decades ago, the debate on this question turned on whether Aristotle conceives of the praise or blame directed at voluntary actions to be prospective (appropriate due to its effects on agents—thus Roberts 1989)...

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