Free will and the Asymmetrical Justifiability of Holding Morally Responsible

Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):772-789 (2015)
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This paper is about an asymmetry in the justification of praising and blaming behaviour which free will theorists should acknowledge even if they do not follow Wolf and Nelkin in holding that praise and blame have different control conditions. That is, even if praise and blame have the same control condition, we must have stronger reasons for believing that it is satisfied to treat someone as blameworthy than we require to treat someone as praiseworthy. Blaming behaviour which involves serious harm can only be justified if the claim that the target of blame acted freely cannot be reasonably doubted. But harmless praise can be justified so long as the claim that the candidate for praise did not act freely can be reasonably doubted. Anyone who thinks a debate about whether someone acted freely is truth-conducive has to acknowledge that reasonable doubt is possible in both these cases
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