Philosophy TV Managing Editors

David Killoren (Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University)

Jonathan Lang (Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Gregg Caruso and Neil Levy

Gregg Caruso and Neil Levy on consciousness and moral responsibility.

It seems that consciousness and moral responsibility are somehow connected. For example, intuitively, a person who is completely unconscious—e.g., a sleepwalker, or a person in a coma—cannot be responsible for what she does or fails to do. Levy has recently argued that moral responsibility for one’s actions requires consciousness of certain relevant facts; he has also argued that we can (sometimes) achieve the requisite level of consciousness, and that we are thus (sometimes) morally responsible for our actions. Caruso, by contrast, regards moral responsibility with heavier skepticism. In this conversation, after an overview of Levy’s position, Caruso and Levy discuss a range of issues: whether there could be a morally responsible zombie (16:29); somnambulism and other cases of global automatism (22:27); implicit bias (27:51); and other cases of nonconscious influence (33:58). They discuss introspection (53:09) and the “deep self” (61:06). They conclude (63:08) by discussing Levy’s views on consciousness and responsibility in the context of his other work.

Related works

by Caruso:
Editor: Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (2013)
Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of Free Will (2012)

by Levy:
Consciousness and Moral Responsibility (2014)
“Consciousness, Implicit Attitudes, and Moral Responsibility” (2014)
Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility (2011)