In response to my critique of Jeffrey’s defense of guilt imputation, Bilbo offered a case which he took to represent a manifestation of guilt imputation:
Are parents ever held legally liable for the offenses of their minor children? For example, if my 15 year old son had wrecked my neighbor’s house, could I be sued?
I offered a quick response but would like to take a bit more time here to explain why this is not relevant to guilt imputation. The concept that Bilbo is referring to is parental liability. The concept of liability is a legal concept which refers to the condition of being subject to a legal obligation. So imagine, for example, that I lend you my car and you hit and kill a pedestrian. I can be held liable for your reckless driving because I own the car. This does not mean, however, that I am culpable for having hit and killed a pedestrian. Thus, the concept of liability is wholly distinct from the concept of guilt imputation.
Parental liability refers to the legal responsibility that parents or legally recognized guardians have for the actions of their children. Again, this is quite different from culpability or guilt imputation. If Smith’s child kills another child, Smith may hold some legal responsibility for the actions of his child (perhaps he was not supervising them appropriately). But Smith is not thereby held morally culpable for killing the child as if his child’s guilt could be imputed to him.
Note as well that if guilt imputation were being applied here then the child would no longer be culpable for having killed the other child because his parent would now be culpable for the action committed by the child. But this is clearly nonsense. And thus liability has no relation whatsoever to guilt imputation.