Behavior genetics and agent responsibility

Joachim Wundisch, Wendy Johnson, Rudiger Bittner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent evidence from psychological science and genetics suggests that genetic influences underlie all behavior as well as the most worrisome social inequalities. This may be considered to call into question traditional conceptions of agency and agent responsibility. They could be thought to be undermined if gene-environment transactions were sufficiently potent in influencing behaviors. Here we identify the theoretical parameters that require investigation and the conceptual challenges to agent responsibility that arise from research in behavior genetics. We (i) introduce the empirical basis of the discussion, (ii) identify the particular questions that arise from considering the connection between behavior genetics and agent responsibility in the context of the legal system, (iii) bring into focus the general challenges to agent responsibility, and (iv) outline a potential resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
JournalZeitschrift für Ethik und Moralphilosophie
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2019


  • agent responsibility
  • agency
  • behavior genetics
  • gene-environment transaction
  • law
  • crime
  • culpability


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavior genetics and agent responsibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this