David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Harvard University Press (1996)
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility.
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Citations of this work BETA
Autumn Fiester (2015). Neglected Ends: Clinical Ethics Consultation and the Prospects for Closure. American Journal of Bioethics 15 (1):29-36.
Angela M. Smith (2008). Control, Responsibility, and Moral Assessment. Philosophical Studies 138 (3):367 - 392.
Michael Mckenna (2008). A Hard-Line Reply to Pereboom's Four-Case Manipulation Argument. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (1):142-159.
Dylan Murray & Eddy Nahmias (2014). Explaining Away Incompatibilist Intuitions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):434-467.
Matthew Talbert (2012). Moral Competence, Moral Blame, and Protest. Journal of Ethics 16 (1):89-109.
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