Partial Desert

In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Theories of moral desert focus only on the personal culpability of the agent to determine the amount of blame and punishment the agent deserves. I defend an alternative account of desert, one that does not focus only facts about offenders and their offenses. In this revised framework, personal culpability can do no more than set upper and lower limits for deserved blame and punishment. For more precise judgments within that spectrum, additional factors must be considered, factors that are independent of the agent and the offense. I refer to this as the ‘partial conception’ of desert because takes facts about victims—their behavior, desires, and attitudes—into account for desert judgments. On my view, then, agents who are equally culpable may deserve different amounts of blame or punishment, depending on these victim-related factors.
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