There is a lively debate over who is to blame for the harms arising from unhealthy behaviours, like overeating and excessive drinking. In this paper, I argue that given how demanding the conditions required for moral responsibility actually are, we cannot be highly confident that anyone is ever morally responsible. I also adduce evidence that holding people responsible for their unhealthy behaviours has costs: it undermines public support for the measures that are likely to have the most impact on these harms. I claim that these two facts—the fact that we cannot be highly confident that anyone is morally responsible and the fact that holding people responsible for their unhealthy behaviours has costs—interact. Together they give us a powerful reason for believing, or acting as if we believed, that ordinary people are not in fact responsible for their unhealthy behaviours.
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- Lifestyle disease