Responsibility, Free Will, and the Concept of Basic Desert

Philosophical Studies 180 (2):615-636 (2023)
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Many philosophers characterize a particularly important sense of free will and responsibility by referring to basically deserved blame. But what is basically deserved blame? The aim of this paper is to identify the appraisal entailed by basic desert claims. It presents three desiderata for an account of desert appraisals and it argues that important recent theories fail to meet them. Then, the paper presents and defends a promising alternative. The basic idea is that claims about basically deserved blame entail that the targets have forfeited their claims that others not blame them and that there is positive reason to blame them. The paper shows how this view frames the discussion about skepticism about free will and responsibility.

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Leonhard Menges
University of Salzburg


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