Banner for Responsibility and Control workshop
Poster image: NASA Flight Simulator Chair, 1981–1995. 
Science Museum Group Collection (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


ERC Roots of Responsibility will sponsor a workshop on Responsibility and Control, to be held on 3–5 June 2021, online via Zoom. This workshop is organised by Maximilian Kiener, a postdoctoral research fellow for RoR and extraordinary junior research fellow at The Queen's College, Oxford.

About the workshop

It is widely held that moral responsibility requires control. But what exactly does control consist of and is it really essential for moral responsibility after all?

We hold people responsible for their beliefs, emotions, or character traits without fully understanding how they control these things. Moreover, blame does not always reflect the control people have over their conduct. For instance, suppose someone knowingly violates COVID-19 travel restrictions and causes an outbreak of infections in a care home. It would be normal to blame that person severely for the outbreak. But suppose another person did the same thing but was lucky: his reckless behaviour did not have any adverse consequences. Our reaction to this person’s conduct may be considerably milder, despite the fact that he had the same degree of control as the unlucky person. Finally, in more recent debates, scholars have argued that certain types of artificial intelligence do not give us sufficient control over them anymore, e.g. because they operate too fast to be monitored in real time. But if that is correct, would the use of AI then also diminish or even exclude human moral responsibility, potentially leaving us with a responsibility gap?

By examining these and other pressing questions, this workshop aims to elucidate the relation between moral responsibility, blame, and control.

Schedule (all times in UK time)

Thursday 3 June




David Enoch (Jerusalem) - Autonomy as Non-Alienation, Autonomy as Sovereignty, and Politics
Comments: Victor Tadros (Warwick)


David Shoemaker (Tulane) - Empathic Control?
Comments: Leonhard Menges (Salzburg)


Friday 4 June


Antony Duff (Stirling) - How Strict Can Moral Responsibility Be? 
Comments: Mark Coeckelbergh (Vienna)


Karen Yeung (Birmingham) & Timothy Endicott (Oxford) - The Death of Law? Computationally Personalised Norms and the Rule of Law
Comments: Claire Field (Stirling)


Saturday 5 June


Maximilian Kiener (Queen's, Oxford) - Taking Responsibility and Strict Moral Answerability
Comments: Susan Wolf (UNC Chapel Hill)


Elinor Mason (UC Santa Barbara) - False Consciousness and Fragile Agency
Comments: Kirstine la Cour (UCL)



Participating in the workshop

We encourage colleagues and especially postgraduate students to attend. Please spread the word. All are welcome, but registration is essential: if you are interested in attending, please register from the following link: 

A PDF version of the poster for the event is available here.

Enquiries about the workshop can be submitted via the message form on this website.

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