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  1. Sher on Blame.Howard Simmons - manuscript
    My subject is the theory of blame recently propounded by George Sher in his book, In Praise of Blame. I argue that although Sher has succeeded in capturing a number of genuine features of the concept of blame, there is an important element that he has omitted, which is the fact that necessarily, when A blames B for something and expresses this to B, A will realise that B is likely to find this unpleasant. The inclusion of the latter element (...)
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  2. Shame and Attributability.Andreas Brekke Carlsson - forthcoming - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, vol. 6.
    Responsibility as accountability is normally taken to have stricter control conditions than responsibility as attributability. A common way to argue for this claim is to point to differences in the harmfulness of blame involved in these different kinds of responsibility. This paper argues that this explanation does not work once we shift our focus from other-directed blame to self-blame. To blame oneself in the accountability sense is to feel guilt and feeling guilty is to suffer. To blame oneself in the (...)
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  3. Reason to Feel Guilty.Randolph Clarke & Piers Rawling - forthcoming - In Andreas Brekke Carlsson (ed.), Self-Blame and Moral Responsibility.
    Let F be a fact in virtue of which an agent, S, is blameworthy for performing an act of A-ing. We advance a slightly qualified version of the following thesis: -/- (Reason) F is (at some time) a reason for S to feel guilty (to some extent) for A-ing. -/- Leaving implicit the qualification concerning extent, we claim as well: -/- (Desert) S's having this reason suffices for S’s deserving to feel guilty for A-ing. -/- We also advance a third (...)
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  4. Addiction and Agency.Justin Clarke-Doane & Kathryn Tabb - forthcoming - In Matt King & Joshua May (eds.), Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions. Oxford University Press.
    Addicts are often portrayed as compelled by their addiction and thus as a paradigm of unfree action and mitigated blame. This chapter argues that our best scientific theories of addiction reveal that, psychologically, addicts are not categorically different from non-addicts. There is no pairing of contemporary accounts of addiction and of prominent theories of moral responsibility that can justify our intuitions about the mitigation of addicts but not non-addicts. Two conclusions are advanced. First, we should either treat addicts as we (...)
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  5. Is It Bad to Prefer Attractive Partners?William D'alessandro - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-20.
    Philosophers have rightly condemned lookism—that is, discrimination in favor of attractive people or against unattractive people—in education, the justice system, the workplace and elsewhere. Surprisingly, however, the almost universal preference for attractive romantic and sexual partners has rarely received serious ethical scrutiny. On its face, it’s unclear whether this is a form of discrimination we should reject or tolerate. I consider arguments for both views. On the one hand, a strong case can be made that preferring attractive partners is bad. (...)
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  6. Creativity, Spontaneity, and Merit.Antti Kauppinen - forthcoming - In Alex King & Christy Mag Uidhir (eds.), Philosophy and Art: New Essays at the Intersection. Oxford University Press.
    Common sense has it that some of the greatest achievements that are to our credit are creative, whether artistic or otherwise. But standard theories of achievement and merit struggle to explain them, since the praiseworthiness of creative achievements isn’t grounded in effort, quality of will, disclosing the agent’s values, or even reasons-responsiveness. I argue that it’s distinctive of artistic or quasi-artistic creative activity that it is guided by what I call aspirational aims, which are formulated in terms of evaluative predicates (...)
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  7. Kant's Mature Theory of Punishment, and a First Critique Ideal Abolitionist Alternative.Benjamin Vilhauer - forthcoming - In Matthew Altman (ed.), Palgrave Kant Handbook.
    This chapter has two goals. First, I will present an interpretation of Kant’s mature account of punishment, which includes a strong commitment to retributivism. Second, I will sketch a non-retributive, “ideal abolitionist” alternative, which appeals to a version of original position deliberation in which we choose the principles of punishment on the assumption that we are as likely to end up among the punished as we are to end up among those protected by the institution of punishment. This is radical (...)
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  8. Kantian Remorse With and Without Self-Retribution.Benjamin Vilhauer - forthcoming - Kantian Review:1-21.
    This is a semifinal draft of a forthcoming paper. Kant’s account of the pain of remorse involves a hybrid justification based on self-retribution, but constrained by forward-looking principles which say that we must channel remorse into improvement, and moderate its pain to avoid damaging our rational agency. Kant’s corpus also offers material for a revisionist but textually-grounded alternative account based on wrongdoers’ sympathy for the pain they cause. This account is based on the value of care, and has forward-looking constraints (...)
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  9. How Much Punishment Is Deserved? Two Alternatives to Proportionality.Thaddeus Metz & Mika’il Metz - 2022 - Philosophies 7 (2):1-13.
    When it comes to the question of how much the state ought to punish a given offender, the standard understanding of the desert theory for centuries has been that it should give him a penalty proportionate to his offense, that is, an amount of punishment that fits the severity of his crime. In this article, part of a special issue on the geometry of desert, we maintain that a desert theorist is not conceptually or otherwise required to hold a proportionality (...)
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  10. How East Meets West: Justice and Consequences in Confucian Meritocracy.Thomas Mulligan - 2022 - Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture 37:17-38.
    "Meritocracy" has historically been understood in two ways. The first is as an approach to governance. On this understanding, we seek to put meritorious (somehow defined) people into public office to the benefit of society. This understanding has its roots in Confucius, its scope is political offices, and its justification is consequentialist. The second understanding of "meritocracy" is as a theory of justice. We distribute in accordance with merit in order to give people the things that they deserve, as justice (...)
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  11. Making Sense of the Knobe-Effect : Praise Demands Both Intention and Voluntariness.Istvan Zoltan Zardai - 2022 - Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy 13:11-20.
    The paper defends the idea that when we evaluate whether agents deserve praise or blame for their actions, we evaluate both whether their action was intentional, and whether it was voluntary. This idea can explain an asymmetry in blameworthiness and praiseworthiness: Agents can be blamed if they have acted either intentionally or voluntarily. However, to merit praise we expect agents to have acted both intentionally and voluntarily. This asymmetry between demands of praise and blame offers an interpretation of the Knobeeffect: (...)
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  12. Equal Pay for All: An Idea Whose Time Has Not, and Will Not, Come.Thomas Mulligan - 2021 - In Debating Equal Pay for All: Economy, Practicability and Ethics. Cham, Switzerland: pp. 21-35.
    The proposal on offer is a radical form of egalitarianism. Under it, each citizen receives the same income, regardless of profession or indeed whether he or she works or not. This proposal is bad for two reasons. First, it is inefficient. It would eliminate nearly all incentive to work, thereby shrinking national income and leaving all citizens poorly off (albeit equally poorly off). I illustrate this inefficiency via an indifference curve analysis. Second, the proposal would be regarded as unjust by (...)
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  13. Worship and the Problem of Divine Achievement.John Pittard - 2021 - Faith and Philosophy 38 (1):65-90.
    Gwen Bradford has plausibly argued that one attains achievement only if one does something one finds difficult. It is also plausible that one must attain achievement to be worthy of “agential” praise, praise that is appropriately directed to someone on the basis of things that redound to their credit. These claims pose a challenge to classical theists who direct agential praise to God, since classical theism arguably entails that none of God’s actions are difficult for God. I consider responses to (...)
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  14. Against the Character Solution to the Problem of Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (1):105-118.
    One way to frame the problem of moral luck is as a contradiction in our ordinary ideas about moral responsibility. In the case of two identical reckless drivers where one kills a pedestrian and the other does not, we tend to intuit that they are and are not equally blameworthy. The Character Response sorts these intuitions in part by providing an account of moral responsibility: the drivers must be equally blameworthy, because they have identical character traits and people are originally (...)
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  15. Why Not Be a Desertist?: Three Arguments for Desert and Against Luck Egalitarianism.Huub Brouwer & Thomas Mulligan - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2271-2288.
    Many philosophers believe that luck egalitarianism captures “desert-like” intuitions about justice. Some even think that luck egalitariansm distributes goods in accordance with desert. In this paper, we argue that this is wrong. Desertism conflicts with luck egalitarianism in three important contexts, and, in these contexts, desertism renders the proper moral judgment. First, compared to desertism, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too stingy: it fails to justly compensate people for their socially valuable contributions—when those contributions arose from “option luck”. Second, luck egalitarianism (...)
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  16. Hitting Retributivism Where It Hurts.Nathan Hanna - 2019 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 13 (1):109-127.
    Many philosophers think that, when someone deserves something, it’s intrinsically good that she get it or there’s a non-instrumental reason to give it to her. Retributivists who try to justify punishment by appealing to claims about what people deserve typically assume this view or views that entail it. In this paper, I present evidence that many people have intuitions that are inconsistent with this view. And I argue that this poses a serious challenge to retributivist arguments that appeal to desert.
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  17. On the Very Idea of a Just Wage (Editorial).Huub Brouwer & Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):iv-vi.
    An introduction to the special issue of the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics: "On the Very Idea of a Just Wage".
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  18. Aquinas and Gregory the Great on the Puzzle of Petitionary Prayer.Scott Hill - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.
    I defend a solution to the puzzle of petitionary prayer based on some ideas of Aquinas, Gregory the Great, and contemporary desert theorists. I then address a series of objections. Along the way broader issues about the nature of desert, what is required for an action to have a point, and what is required for a puzzle to have a solution are discussed.
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  19. Justice and the Meritocratic State.Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - New York: Routledge.
    Like American politics, the academic debate over justice is polarized, with almost all theories of justice falling within one of two traditions: egalitarianism and libertarianism. This book provides an alternative to the partisan standoff by focusing not on equality or liberty, but on the idea that we should give people the things that they deserve. Mulligan argues that a just society is a meritocracy, in which equal opportunity prevails and social goods are distributed strictly on the basis of merit. That (...)
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  20. Do People Deserve Their Economic Rents?Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):163-190.
    Rather than answering the broad question, ‘What is a just income?’, in this essay I consider one component of income—economic rent—under one understanding of justice—as giving people what they deserve. As it turns out, the answer to this more focused question is ‘no’. People do not deserve their economic rents, and there is no bar of justice to their confiscation. After briefly covering the concept of desert and explaining what economic rents are, I analyze six types of rent and show (...)
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  21. Responsibility and the Shallow Self.Samuel Reis-Dennis - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (2):483-501.
    Contemporary philosophers of moral responsibility are in widespread agreement that we can only be blamed for actions that express, reflect, or disclose something about us or the quality of our wills. In this paper I reject that thesis and argue that self disclosure is not a necessary condition on moral responsibility and blameworthiness: reactive responses ranging from aretaic appraisals all the way to outbursts of anger and resentment can be morally justified even when the blamed agent’s action expresses or discloses (...)
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  22. Blameworthiness as Deserved Guilt.Andreas Carlsson - 2017 - The Journal of Ethics 21 (1):89-115.
    It is often assumed that we are only blameworthy for that over which we have control. In recent years, however, several philosophers have argued that we can be blameworthy for occurrences that appear to be outside our control, such as attitudes, beliefs and omissions. This has prompted the question of why control should be a condition on blameworthiness. This paper aims at defending the control condition by developing a new conception of blameworthiness: To be blameworthy, I argue, is most fundamentally (...)
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  23. On the Possibility and Permissibility of Interpersonal Punishment.Laura Gillespie - 2017 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
    In the dissertation, I consider the permissibility of a familiar set of responses to wrongdoing in our interpersonal relationships—those responses that constitute the imposition of some cost upon the wrongdoer. Some of these responses are, I argue, properly considered punishing, and some of these instances of punishing are in turn permissible. Punishment as I understand it is a broad phenomenon, common in and to all human relationships, and not exclusively or even primarily the domain of the state. Personal interactions expressive (...)
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  24. What's Wrong with Libertarianism: A Meritocratic Diagnosis.Thomas Mulligan - 2017 - In Jason Brennan, David Schmidtz & Bas van der Vossen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism. New York: Routledge. pp. 77-91.
    Some people may think that libertarianism and meritocracy have much in common; that the libertarian's ideal world looks like the meritocrat's ideal world; and that the public policies guiding us to each are one and the same. This is wrong in all respects. In this essay I explain why. -/- After providing an overview of meritocratic justice, I argue that meritocracy is a more compelling theory of distributive justice than libertarianism. Meritocracy better protects the core value of personal responsibility; incorporates (...)
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  25. Review of Michael McKenna, Conversation and Responsibility. [REVIEW]Paul Russell - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (2):285-95.
    Michael McKenna’s Conversation and Responsibility is an ambitious and impressive statement of a new theory of moral responsibility. McKenna’s approach builds upon the strategy advanced in P.F. Strawson’s enormously influential “Freedom and Resentment” (which was published in 1962). The account advanced aims to provide Strawson’s theory with the sort of detail that is required to fill significant gaps and respond to a wide range of criticisms and objections that have been directed against it. ....Conversation and Responsibility belongs on the top (...)
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  26. Free Will and Moral Sense: Strawsonian Approaches.Paul Russell - 2017 - In Routledge Companion to Free Will. London, UK: pp. 96-108.
    Over the past few centuries the free will debate has largely turned on the question of whether or not the truth of the thesis of determinism is compatible with the relevant form of freedom that is required for moral responsibility. This way of approaching the free will problem was fundamentally challenged by P.F. Strawson in his hugely influential paper “Freedom and Resentment,” which was published in 1962. In this paper Strawson pursues a line of argument that can be found in (...)
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  27. The Evolution of Retribution: Intuitions Undermined.Isaac Wiegman - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (2):490-510.
    Recent empirical work suggests that emotions are responsible for anti-consequentialist intuitions. For instance, anger places value on actions of revenge and retribution, value not derived from the consequences of these actions. As a result, it contributes to the development of retributive intuitions. I argue that if anger evolved to produce these retributive intuitions because of their biological consequences, then these intuitions are not a good indicator that punishment has value apart from its consequences. This severs the evidential connection between retributive (...)
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  28. Accountability, Answerability, and Freedom.Sofia Jeppsson - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (4):681-705.
    It has been argued that we cannot be morally responsible in the sense required to deserve blame or punishment if the world is deterministic, but still morally responsible in the sense of being apt targets for moral criticism. Desert-entailing moral responsibility is supposed to be more freedom-demanding than other kinds of responsibility, since it justifies subjecting people to blame and punishments, is nonconsequentialist, and has been shown by thought experiments to be incompatible with determinism. In this paper, I will show (...)
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  29. Punishment, Forgiveness and Reconciliation.Bill Wringe - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (4):1099-1124.
    It is sometimes thought that the normative justification for responding to large-scale violations of human rights via the judicial appararatus of trial and punishment is undermined by the desirability of reconciliation between conflicting parties as part of the process of conflict resolution. I take there to be philosophical, as well as practical and psychological issues involved here: on some conceptions of punishment and reconciliation, the attitudes that they involve conflict with one another on rational grounds. But I shall argue that (...)
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  30. Technological Progress and Responsibility.Nikil Mukerji - 2014 - In Fiorella Battaglia, Nikil Mukerji & Julian Nida-Rümelin (eds.), Rethinking Responsibility in Science and Technology. Pisa University Press. pp. 25-36.
    In this essay, I will examine how technological progress affects the responsibilities of human agents. To this end, I will distinguish between two interpretations of the concept of responsibility, viz. responsibility as attributability and substantive responsibility. On the former interpretation, responsibility has to do with the idea of authorship. When we say that a person is responsible for her actions we mean that she is to be seen as the author of these actions. They can be attributed to her, such (...)
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  31. Does Division Multiply Desert?Theron Pummer - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (1):43-77.
    It seems plausible that (i) how much punishment a person deserves cannot be affected by the mere existence or nonexistence of another person. We might have also thought that (ii) how much punishment is deserved cannot increase merely in virtue of personal division. I argue that (i) and (ii) are inconsistent with the popular belief that, other things being equal, when people culpably do very wrong or bad acts, they ought to be punished for this—even if they have repented, are (...)
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  32. Some Theses on Desert.Randolph Clarke - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations 16 (2):153-64.
    Consider the idea that suffering of some specific kind is deserved by those who are guilty of moral wrongdoing. Feeling guilty is a prime example. It might be said that it is noninstrumentally good that one who is guilty feel guilty (at the right time and to the right degree), or that feeling guilty (at the right time and to the right degree) is apt or fitting for one who is guilty. Each of these claims constitutes an interesting thesis about (...)
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  33. Two Claims About Desert.Nathan Hanna - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):41-56.
    Many philosophers claim that it is always intrinsically good when people get what they deserve and that there is always at least some reason to give people what they deserve. I highlight problems with this view and defend an alternative. I have two aims. First, I want to expose a gap in certain desert-based justifications of punishment. Second, I want to show that those of us who have intuitions at odds with these justifications have an alternative account of desert at (...)
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  34. Priority and Desert.Matthew Rendall - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):939-951.
    Michael Otsuka, Alex Voorhoeve and Marc Fleurbaey have challenged the priority view in favour of a theory based on competing claims. The present paper shows how their argument can be used to recast the priority view. All desert claims in distributive justice are comparative. The stronger a party’s claims to a given benefit, the greater is the value of her receiving it. Ceteris paribus, the worse-off have stronger claims on welfare, and benefits to them matter more. This can account for (...)
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  35. Distributive and Retributive Desert in Rawls.Jake Greenblum - 2010 - Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (2):169-184.
    In this paper I examine John Rawls’s understanding of desert. Against Samuel Scheffler, I maintain that the reasons underlying Rawls’s rejection of the traditional view of distributive desert in A Theory of Justice also commit him to rejecting the traditional view of retributive desert. Unlike Rawls’s critics, however, I view this commitment in a positive light. I also argue that Rawls’s later work commits him to rejecting retributivism as a public justification for punishment.
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  36. An Aristotelian Approach to Cognitive Enhancement.Lubomira V. Radoilska - 2010 - Journal of Value Inquiry 44 (3):365–375.
    In this paper, I argue that cognitive enhancement cannot be epistemically beneficial since getting things right in particular and epistemic agency in general both presuppose a kind of achievement. Drawing on Aristotle’s ethics, I distinguish four categories of actions: caused, attributable, responsible, and creditable. I conclude that to the extent that cognitive enhancement is incompatible with the latter category it undermines rather than strengthens autonomous agency in the realm of cognition.
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  37. Moral Projection and the Intelligibility of Collective Forgiveness.Harry Bunting - 2009 - Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society 7:107 - 120.
    ABSTRACT. The paper explores the philosophical intelligibility of contemporary defences of collective political forgiveness against a background of sceptical doubt, both general and particular. Three genera sceptical arguments are examined: one challenges the idea that political collectives exist; another challenges the idea that moral agency can be projected upon political collectives; a final argument challenges the attribution of emotions, especially anger, to collectives. Each of these sceptical arguments is rebutted. At a more particular level, the contrasts between individual forgiveness and (...)
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  38. Free Will Skepticism and Personhood as a Desert Base.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):489-511.
    In contemporary free will theory, a significant number of philosophers are once again taking seriously the possibility that human beings do not have free will, and are therefore not morally responsible for their actions. (Free will is understood here as whatever satisfies the control condition of moral responsibility.) Free will theorists commonly assume that giving up the belief that human beings are morally responsible implies giving up all our beliefs about desert. But the consequences of giving up the belief that (...)
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  39. Explaining the Geometry of Desert.Neil Feit & Stephen Kershnar - 2004 - Public Affairs Quarterly 18:273.
    In the past decade, three philosophers in particular have recently explored the relation between desert and intrinsic value. Fred Feldman argues that consequentialism need not give much weight – or indeed any weight at all – to the happiness of persons who undeservedly experience pleasure. He defends the claim that the intrinsic value of a state of affairs is determined by the “fit” between the amount of well-being that a person receives and the amount of well-being that the person deserves. (...)
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  40. Unavoidable Blameworthiness.Bryan G. Wiebe - 2000 - Journal of Philosophical Research 25:275-283.
    The Kantian ethical position, especially as represented in Alan Donagan, rejects the possibility of unavoidable blameworthiness. Donagan also holds that morality is learned by participation. But consider: there must be some first instance of an agent’s being held blameworthy. To hold the agent blameworthy in that instance supposes that the agent could have known what morality required so as to be able to avoid blameworthiness. But before experiencing blameworthiness the agent can have no real understanding of the significance of morality’s (...)
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  41. Smith on Moral Sentiment and Moral Luck.Paul Russell - 1999 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 16 (1):37 - 58.
    Smith's views on moral luck have attracted little attention in the relevant contemporary literature on this subject.* More surprising, perhaps, the material in the secondary literature directly concerned with Smith's moral philosophy is rather thin on this aspect of his thought. In this paper my particular concern is to provide an interpretation and critical assessment of Smith on moral luck. I begin with a description of the basic features of Smith's position; then I criticize two particularly important claims that are (...)
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  42. Republican Theory and Criminal Punishment.Philip Pettit - 1997 - Utilitas 9 (1):59.
    Suppose we embrace the republican ideal of freedom as non-domination: freedom as immunity to arbitrary interference. In that case those acts that call uncontroversially for criminalization will usually be objectionable on three grounds: the offender assumes a dominating position in relation to the victim, the offender reduces the range or ease of undominated choice on the part of the victim, and the offender raises a spectre of domination for others like the victim. And in that case, so it appears, the (...)
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  43. Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume’s Way of Naturalizing Responsibility.Paul Russell - 1995 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of a compatibilist position--that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it overlooks the crucial role of moral sentiment in Hume's picture of human nature. Hume was concerned to describe the regular mechanisms which generate moral sentiments such as (...)
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  44. Strawson's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility.Paul Russell - 1992 - Ethics 102 (2):287-302.
    This article is concerned with a central strand of Strawson's well-known and highly influential essay “Freedom and Resentment” Strawson's principal objectives in this work is to refute or discredit the views of the "Pessimist." The Pessimist, as Strawson understands him (or her), claims that the truth of the thesis of determinism would render the attitudes and practices associated with moral responsibility incoherent and unjustified. Given this, the Pessimist claims that if determinism is true, then we must abandon or suspend these (...)
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  45. Understanding Retribution.Roger Wertheimer - 1983 - Criminal Justice Ethics 2 (2):19-38.
    Critical analysis of wide variety of conceptions and justifications of retribution and punishment. Emphasis is on pivotal role of condemnation.
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