Justin Sytsma, Pascale Willemsen, & Kevin Reuter
Sytsma, J., Willemsen, P. & Reuter, K. (2023). Mutual entailment between causation and responsibility. Philosophical Studies 180, 3593–3614. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-023-02041-2
Publication year: 2023

The standard view in philosophy is that responsibility entails causation. Most philosophers treat this entailment claim as an evident insight into the ordinary concepts of responsibility and causation. Further, it is taken to be equally obvious that the reversal of this claim does not hold: causation does not entail responsibility. In contrast, Sytsma and Livengood have put forward an account of the use of ordinary causal attributions (statements like “X caused Y”) that contends that they are typically used interchangeably with responsibility attributions (statements like “X is responsible for Y”). Put in terms of the concepts at play in these attributions, this account suggests that the reversal of the entailment claim may also hold, and, a fortiori, there would be mutual entailment between the ordinary concepts of responsibility and causation. Using the cancellability test, we report the results of three pre-registered studies providing empirical evidence that causation and responsibility are mutually entailed by each other.