Here’s a rough abstract of a paper I’m working on with a colleague.
We argue that moral responsibility attributions are a social practice whose primary moral function is to enhance moral agency. On this functional account, moral responsibility itself is a status properly attributed to an agent who belongs in the relevant community. Thus, moral responsibility is ontologically dependent on moral responsibility attribution. Our account is forward-looking: the practice of attributing moral responsibility is justified by its outcome. Our account is conversational: one important way that moral responsibility attributions produce their agency enhancing effects is through conversations between agents and their observers. Finally, our account is pluralistic: moral responsibility attributions have multiple sub-functions. Specifically, moral responsibility attributions may be aimed at enhancing the moral character of an agent, their degree of control, or both. Thus, our functionalist account incorporates the insights of both the character and the control views of moral responsibility.