Let's Not Do Responsibility Skepticism

Journal of Applied Philosophy 40 (3):458-73 (2023)
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Abstract

I argue for three conclusions. First, responsibility skeptics are committed to the position that the criminal justice system should adopt a universal nonresponsibility excuse. Second, a universal nonresponsibility excuse would diminish some of our most deeply held values, further dehumanize criminals, exacerbate mass incarceration, and cause an even greater number of innocent people (nonwrongdoers) to be punished. Third, while Saul Smilansky's ‘illusionist’ response to responsibility skeptics – that even if responsibility skepticism is correct, society should maintain a responsibility‐realist/retributivist criminal justice system – is generally compelling, it would not work if a majority of society were to convert, theoretically and psychologically, to responsibility skepticism. In this (highly improbable) scenario, and only in this (highly improbable) scenario, the criminal justice system would need to be reformed in such a way that it aligned with the majority's responsibility‐skeptical beliefs and attitudes.

Author's Profile

Ken M. Levy
Louisiana State University

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