Asbjørn Aagaard Schmidt
Voluntariness and Responsibility: Challenging the Connection
This paper is a criticism of the Voluntariness view, which holds that the presence of acceptable alternatives is a necessary condition for parties to an agreement being liable for (some of) the consequences of the agreement. It is argued that: (1) in some cases the requirement is implausible, (2) it is doubtful that the move from one to two acceptable alternatives is morally relevant or significant and, (3) for related reasons the presence of acceptable alternatives is not a good candidate for a sufficient condition either. Based (1)-(3) it is argued that the Voluntariness view does not track the whether there is liability implied by an agreement. Some objections are considered. Notably, it is argued that the Voluntariness view cannot plausibly appeal to being a guarantee against adaptive preference or for third parties having knowledge of the agreement being made voluntarily. The paper does not rule out that it is desirable for persons or societies that people make agreements in the presence of acceptable alternatives.