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We can define responsibility in many different ways. It can be the act of being accountable or answerable to, an obligation or liability in which one is held accountable to. In order for one to differentiate between moral and causal responsibility, one has to understand the very core meaning of each.
Moral responsibility can be termed as assuming a capacity to make rational decisions. It can also be termed as having a balance in various needs including your very own, and in any situation where one is morally responsible maybe for an action ,it is being worthy of a particular kind of reaction being either praise or blame. According to Aristotle in Nichomachean Ethics, he states that it is any action, which should be voluntary, and warrants either praise or blame. The action itself holds two distinct features which are mainly a control condition and epistemic condition. The control condition places the action to have an origin, in which case it is the person while the epistemic condition is that state where the person is aware of what he or she is doing. To be responsible for an action or what can be termed as being accountable, entails that the behavior properly attributed to the person is governed by interpersonal normative standards of conduct that bring about expectations from the society. Theories in moral responsibility have four main points such as the idea of being morally responsible or being a moral person, the understanding of moral responsibility itself, conditions under which the concept of moral responsibility apply to, and the possible object of ascriptions such as consequences, character traits, omissions and even actions.
Causal responsibility can be termed as being responsible for the events brought about by ones' activities. It can also be defined as the responsibility of making some affairs to come about or some undesirable effects related to the action not to occur. It is also important to note that causal responsibility is also associated with consequential responsibility meaning that it defines who is to take blame in the event of a failure or even praise or credit in the event of a success.
Moral responsibility and causal responsibility
Having being able to have an over view of both kinds of responsibility, there is a question of whether moral responsibility is necessary for causal responsibility or whether causal responsibility is necessary for moral responsibility. In evaluation, moral responsibility is the act of being accountable and even answerable to any situation that a person is mandated to take charge over, it requires a degree of causal responsibility. In this case, the epistemic condition in moral responsibility, one is aware of what he or she is doing which basically means that one is governed by the interpersonal standards of conducts. These conducts can be under influence thus making one incapable of making rational decisions. The resulting effects could bring about consequential responsibility, in other words, causal responsibility clearly indicating that there is a tie between the two kinds of responsibilities.
To make a good example of this, take for example the role played by parents. Parents have an obligation to be of moral guidance to the children as the children are termed not to have developed a high degree in responsibility. Incase the child is to make an error or mistake; the society would look upon the parents as having failed in their designated role, thus earning them blame. In this case blame is a consequential/ causal responsibility effect that comes about from not having mandated themselves to either advising the child or not taking preventative measures so as to stop the undesired occurrence. Causal determinism is the concept that the current occurrence is or has been determined by previous or preceding events; therefore the lack of parental guidance has led to the misconduct of the child. In another example, a driver who is driving under the influence of alcohol drives into another vehicle causing multiple injuries to both of them. The main cause of the accident was the driver. The driver in this case holds a moral responsibility for his safety and that of others but due to influence he cannot make logical and rational decision thus causing the accident which could have been avoided (causal responsibility). It is therefore right to place the blame on the drunken driver as a result given his behavior or character.
In another example the government is responsible for providing quality services to its people, a moral obligation or responsibility. This factor is determined by the fact that the government can only sustain its services to the people if at all they continue paying their taxes to the government. Incase there were no taxes paid, would the people blame the government? And if the taxes are paid, isn't it the responsibility of the government to provide worthy services to the people? In this scenario, lack of services is a result of lack of tax payment by the people is a consequential/ causal effect. Though exercising their will, they are affected. This should shows a trickledown effect in our choice of will.
It should however be understood that moral responsibility exists because of the freedom to exercise free will, thus depicting the outcome of our actions which have been done through free will. Any positive outcome is praised thus the person is termed as being morally responsible while any negative outcome will make the person morally irresponsible. The praise or shame that comes about due to our exercise of free will shapes our characters, therefore making the end effect (causal responsibility) a link to our want to either do good or evil (moral responsibility).