“I couldn’t help it.” We hear that a lot, but it’s rarely true in those cases in which it’s invoked.
Diana Hsieh (of NoodleFood) has placed her prospectus, “Moral Responsibility and Moral Luck,” on her web page. (You can also read it in pieces through her blog starting with December 10.) The paper is basically a proposal for her doctoral dissertation, so it does not necessarily present her arguments in their final form.
Hsieh lays out the conditions under which a person should be held morally accountable for his or her actions. She also explains why various factors, such as most childhood experiences, do not absolve an adult of responsibility. If you’re not as concerned with the academic debate, you might want to jump to page 22, “Moral Responsibility.” In this section, Hsieh outlines the basic requirements for moral responsibility, drawing upon the theories of Aristotle.