Determinism, Blameworthiness, and Deprivation

Determinism, Blameworthiness, and Deprivation

Determinism, Blameworthiness, and Deprivation

Determinism, Blameworthiness, and Deprivation

Synopsis

This book casts new light on the traditional disagreement between those who hold that we cannot be morally responsible for our actions if they are causally determined, and those who deny this. Klein suggests that reflection on the relation between justice and deprivation offers a way out of this perplexity.

Excerpt

As I indicated at the end of Chapter 3, there are two ways in which a compatibilist might oppose the claim that there is a U-condition for blameworthiness. He might object that our moral intuitions do not endorse such a condition. Or he might claim that if we do endorse such a condition, we ought not to, for the belief in it is incoherent or unsatisfactory in some other respect. It is with the first of these objections that this chapter will be concerned.

Since, as I argued in the last chapter, some philosophers have explicitly endorsed conditions like the U-condition, it might seem that one has simply to point to these endorsements as evidence that there is commitment to a belief in it. But this clearly won't do, for most people who think about these issues (philosophers and non-philosophers) have not explicitly committed themselves to a U-condition for blameworthiness.

However, one does not have to endorse a belief explicitly in order to be committed to it. There could be other beliefs we hold which commit us to the belief in a U-condition and I shall argue that this is, in fact, the case. I shall argue that some of our reflective moral intuitions are 'U-condition generating beliefs', that is beliefs which commit those who hold them (whether they realize it or not) to the belief in a U-condition. (This will be argued for in Section 2.) These intuitions are all beliefs to the effect that agents are not morally responsible if their actions are caused by certain specific factors; what these factors have in common is that they are states or events for which the agents are not responsible. Among such beliefs is the one that an agent whose M-state of mind is attributable to brainwashing is not morally responsible. Another is the belief that an agent whose M-state of mind is the result of brain damage is not morally re-

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