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Taking Responsibility

Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm

This colloquium talk is planned as an in-person event. Registration by email is only required for non-CEU members. Please check the COVID safety rules here to enter the building.

In case you would like to watch the event via Zoom, please request the details by email.


We would like people to live up to their obligations, moral and otherwise. But since our obligations are often demanding and we as creatures are fallible, even the most conscientious of us will occasionally fall short. We break promises, betray secrets, get into arguments, forget birthdays and appointments. Sometimes we do so unwittingly, or by accident, sometimes because we succumb to temptation. Whatever the explanation for our failure, when we do fail the right thing to do is to take responsibility.

What is it to take responsibility for a moral failure: wrongdoing, in particular? While philosophers have had plenty to say about holding others responsible, the phenomenon of taking responsibility has received comparatively little attention. This paper investigates this question.