I’m constantly struck by how often talk of moral responsibility becomes talk only of blameworthiness. I think blameworthiness (BW) and praiseworthiness (PW) are intimately related, lying on opposite ends of a spectrum, and both bearing an important relation to responsibility. It seems to me a desideratum for a theory of responsibility that it gives an account of both. When I see accounts that exclude PW (e.g., Wallace; Darwall), I think the omission counts against such theories.
Some disagree with this, for they don’t think BW and PW are closely related. If someone like me thinks responsibility must be about both and someone else thinks it should be about BW alone, then we are more likely to talk past one another. More to the point, if we can’t agree on what it is we’re trying to give accounts of, then it’s hard to see how we can compare our theories fruitfully.
All this led me to wonder whether we could agree on a set of desiderata for a theory of moral responsibility. This would seem to have lots of benefits. Evaluating theories requires having some stable points of reference. To say that Theory A is preferable to Theory B means that it does better in some respect. It might be simpler, but with the same explanatory power as its competitors. It might be broader, explaining more of the domain. But if we can’t even agree on what needs explained, we will have more and more difficulty ensuring that our competing theories are proper competitors.
So, what are the desiderata for a theory of moral responsibility? Should it capture both BW and PW? Should it justify punishment or retributive conduct? Must it reference ‘free will’? Must it require ‘control’?
In short, is there anything an account must explain in order to count as a theory of responsibility? Anything the failure of which to explain would give us grounds to reject the view?