Central to progressive politics and the development of inclusive communities is an understanding of the conditions under which people must be held responsible for their behaviour, and how that affects others in society.
This issue is critically examined in two books by Henry Tam:
Responsibility & Personal Interactions: A Philosophical Study of the Criteria for Responsibility Ascriptions, Tam, H. (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).
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This book explores the interpersonal basis of the practice of responsibility ascriptions; formulates a clear and precise set of criteria for responsibility ascriptions; and demonstrates how the proposed criteria help to solve the key problems connected with responsibility in moral and legal philosophy.
Sir P.F. Strawson, the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy (University of Oxford), wrote that he read it “with great interest and pleasure. I find myself fully in agreement with the main thrust of it … I particularly applaud (and share) [Tam’s] conception of the proper task of the philosopher.”
Chapters in the book:
• Personal Attitudes, Personal Interactions, and the Practice of Responsibility Ascriptions
• Is It Irrational to Hold People Responsible for Their Behavior?
• Forced to Behave in Spite of Oneself
• Culpable and Non-Culpable Ignorance
• Mental Abnormality and Responsibility
• Responsibility for Foreseeable Side-Effects & Intentional Omissions
• Determinism & Responsibility
Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development, Tam, H., ed., (Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1996)
This book brings together philosophers, psychiatrists and criminologists to explore how best to deal with irresponsible behaviour in society.
Part 1 Punishment:
Punishment, citizenship and responsibility
Restitution without punishment - is it enough to make criminals pay?
Mental disorder, multiple diagnosis and secure provision
Part 2 Excuses: responsibility, mental illness and psychiatric experts
"Not guilty, by reason of genetic determinism"
The limits of criminality - Kant on the plank
Part 3 Moral development: criminals and moral development - towards a cognitive theory of moral change
"Community", communities and the education of citizens
Individual versus social change
Educating responsible citizens.