One Step Towards a Reasonable Libertarianism

This paper addresses the libertarian’s “proportion issue,” i.e., the question of what part, or proportion, of the acts for which an agent is morally responsible are freely chosen acts. Many libertarians tacitly assume the absolutist position or the generous position on this issue according to which all or most of an agent’s morally accountable actions are freely chosen. Given that libertarian free choices are inherently unpredictable and that most human acts by contrast are predictable and often predicted, the absolutist and generous positions on the proportion issue are untenable. The paper argues for a “cautious” libertarianism that maintains that only a small number of the acts for which an agent is morally responsible are freely chosen. To make this plausible, a notion of “libertarian responsibility transfer” is developed and defended against possible criticisms. The paper concludes that one step towards a reasonable libertarianism is the adoption of the cautious position on the proportion issue
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DOI 10.5840/jpr_1998_8
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