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  1. Sher on Blame.Howard Simmons - manuscript
    My subject is the theory of blame recently propounded by George Sher in his book, In Praise of Blame. I argue that although Sher has succeeded in capturing a number of genuine features of the concept of blame, there is an important element that he has omitted, which is the fact that necessarily, when A blames B for something and expresses this to B, A will realise that B is likely to find this unpleasant. The inclusion of the latter element (...)
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  2. Shame and Attributability.Andreas Brekke Carlsson - forthcoming - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, vol. 6.
    Responsibility as accountability is normally taken to have stricter control conditions than responsibility as attributability. A common way to argue for this claim is to point to differences in the harmfulness of blame involved in these different kinds of responsibility. This paper argues that this explanation does not work once we shift our focus from other-directed blame to self-blame. To blame oneself in the accountability sense is to feel guilt and feeling guilty is to suffer. To blame oneself in the (...)
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  3. Addiction and Agency.Justin Clarke-Doane & Kathryn Tabb - forthcoming - In Matt King & Joshua May (eds.), Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions. Oxford University Press.
    Addicts are often portrayed as compelled by their addiction and thus as a paradigm of unfree action and mitigated blame. This chapter argues that our best scientific theories addiction reveal that, psychologically, addicts are not categorically different from non-addicts. There is no pairing of contemporary accounts of addiction and of prominent theories of moral responsibility that can justify our intuitions about the mitigation of addicts but not non-addicts. Two conclusions are advanced. First, we should either treat addicts as we normally (...)
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  4. Viii. The Concept of Desert.John Kleinig - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
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  5. Kant's Mature Theory of Punishment, and a First Critique Ideal Abolitionist Alternative.Benjamin Vilhauer - forthcoming - In Matthew Altman (ed.), Palgrave Kant Handbook.
    This chapter has two goals. First, I will present an interpretation of Kant’s mature account of punishment, which includes a strong commitment to retributivism. Second, I will sketch a non-retributive, “ideal abolitionist” alternative, which appeals to a version of original position deliberation in which we choose the principles of punishment on the assumption that we are as likely to end up among the punished as we are to end up among those protected by the institution of punishment. This is radical (...)
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  6. Against the Character Solution to the Problem of Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (1):105-118.
    One way to frame the problem of moral luck is as a contradiction in our ordinary ideas about moral responsibility. In the case of two identical reckless drivers where one kills a pedestrian and the other does not, we tend to intuit that they are and are not equally blameworthy. The Character Response sorts these intuitions in part by providing an account of moral responsibility: the drivers must be equally blameworthy, because they have identical character traits and people are originally (...)
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  7. Hitting Retributivism Where It Hurts.Nathan Hanna - 2019 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 13 (1):109-127.
    Many philosophers think that, when someone deserves something, it’s intrinsically good that she get it or there’s a non-instrumental reason to give it to her. Retributivists who try to justify punishment by appealing to claims about what people deserve typically assume this view or views that entail it. In this paper, I present evidence that many people have intuitions that are inconsistent with this view. And I argue that this poses a serious challenge to retributivist arguments that appeal to desert.
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  8. Prioritarianism: Room for Desert?Matthew D. Adler - 2018 - Utilitas 30 (2):172-197.
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  9. Aquinas and Gregory the Great on the Puzzle of Petitionary Prayer.Scott Hill - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.
    I defend a solution to the puzzle of petitionary prayer based on some ideas of Aquinas, Gregory the Great, and contemporary desert theorists. I then address a series of objections. Along the way broader issues about the nature of desert, what is required for an action to have a point, and what is required for a puzzle to have a solution are discussed.
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  10. Blameworthiness as Deserved Guilt.Andreas Carlsson - 2017 - The Journal of Ethics 21 (1):89-115.
    It is often assumed that we are only blameworthy for that over which we have control. In recent years, however, several philosophers have argued that we can be blameworthy for occurrences that appear to be outside our control, such as attitudes, beliefs and omissions. This has prompted the question of why control should be a condition on blameworthiness. This paper aims at defending the control condition by developing a new conception of blameworthiness: To be blameworthy, I argue, is most fundamentally (...)
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  11. Weighing Unjust Lives.Andrew T. Forcehimes - 2017 - In Jens David Ohlin, Larry May & Claire Finkelstein (eds.), Weighing Lives in War. Oxford, UK: pp. 284-297.
    Are the lives of those fighting on the unjust side of a war worth less than the lives of those fighting on the just side? It is tempting to answer Yes. There is a powerful and popular rationale for this verdict: Things are intrinsically better when people get what they deserve. According to this view, the goodness of a life is the product of one’s desert-adjusted welfare. In this essay, I highlight the troubling implications that adjusting for desert has in (...)
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  12. On the Possibility and Permissibility of Interpersonal Punishment.Laura Gillespie - 2017 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
    In the dissertation, I consider the permissibility of a familiar set of responses to wrongdoing in our interpersonal relationships—those responses that constitute the imposition of some cost upon the wrongdoer. Some of these responses are, I argue, properly considered punishing, and some of these instances of punishing are in turn permissible. Punishment as I understand it is a broad phenomenon, common in and to all human relationships, and not exclusively or even primarily the domain of the state. Personal interactions expressive (...)
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  13. Blame, Forgiveness, and Honor in Aristotle and Beyond.Carissa Phillips-Garrett - 2017 - Dissertation, Rice University
    Many contemporary discussions of forgiveness assume forgiveness is fundamentally admirable. Examining Aristotle’s account, however, demonstrates that there is a tension between desert and forgiveness that is often overlooked in contemporary discussions. Through examining the neglected concept of sungnōmē, which forestalls blame, I conclude that Aristotelian blame is justified only on grounds of fairness. This conclusion is evidence that Aristotelian blame is not merely an instrumental or descriptive tool, but rather a way of holding agents morally accountable. Through examining the emphasis (...)
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  14. Desert of What? On Murphy’s Reluctant Retributivism.Linda Radzik - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (1):161-173.
    In Punishment and the Moral Emotions, Jeffrie Murphy rejects his earlier, strong endorsements of retributivism. Questioning both our motivations for embracing retributivism and our views about the basis of desert, he now describes himself as a “reluctant retributivist.” In this essay, I argue that Murphy should reject retributivism altogether. Even if we grant that criminals have negative desert, why should we suppose that it is desert of suffering? I argue that it is possible to defend desert-based theories of punishment that (...)
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  15. Review of Michael McKenna, Conversation and Responsibility. [REVIEW]Paul Russell - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (2):285-95.
    Michael McKenna’s Conversation and Responsibility is an ambitious and impressive statement of a new theory of moral responsibility. McKenna’s approach builds upon the strategy advanced in P.F. Strawson’s enormously influential “Freedom and Resentment” (which was published in 1962). The account advanced aims to provide Strawson’s theory with the sort of detail that is required to fill significant gaps and respond to a wide range of criticisms and objections that have been directed against it. ....Conversation and Responsibility belongs on the top (...)
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  16. The Evolution of Retribution: Intuitions Undermined.Isaac Wiegman - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (2):490-510.
    Recent empirical work suggests that emotions are responsible for anti-consequentialist intuitions. For instance, anger places value on actions of revenge and retribution, value not derived from the consequences of these actions. As a result, it contributes to the development of retributive intuitions. I argue that if anger evolved to produce these retributive intuitions because of their biological consequences, then these intuitions are not a good indicator that punishment has value apart from its consequences. This severs the evidential connection between retributive (...)
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  17. Accountability, Answerability, and Freedom.Sofia Jeppsson - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (4):681-705.
    It has been argued that we cannot be morally responsible in the sense required to deserve blame or punishment if the world is deterministic, but still morally responsible in the sense of being apt targets for moral criticism. Desert-entailing moral responsibility is supposed to be more freedom-demanding than other kinds of responsibility, since it justifies subjecting people to blame and punishments, is nonconsequentialist, and has been shown by thought experiments to be incompatible with determinism. In this paper, I will show (...)
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  18. Punishment, Forgiveness and Reconciliation.Bill Wringe - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (4):1099-1124.
    It is sometimes thought that the normative justification for responding to large-scale violations of human rights via the judicial appararatus of trial and punishment is undermined by the desirability of reconciliation between conflicting parties as part of the process of conflict resolution. I take there to be philosophical, as well as practical and psychological issues involved here: on some conceptions of punishment and reconciliation, the attitudes that they involve conflict with one another on rational grounds. But I shall argue that (...)
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  19. There’s No Need to Rethink Desert: A Reply to Pummer.Benjamin Curtis - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (4):999-1010.
    Pummer : 43–77, 2014) ingeniously wraps together issues from the personal identity literature with issues from the literature on desert. However, I wish to take issue with the main conclusion that he draws, namely, that we need to rethink the following principle: Desert.: When people culpably do very wrong or bad acts, they deserve punishment in the following sense: at least other things being equal they ought to be made worse off, simply in virtue of the fact that they culpably (...)
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  20. Book Review: Retributivism Has a Past: Has It a Future?, Edited by Michael Tonry. [REVIEW]Stephen Kershnar - 2015 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 12 (1):112-115.
    Retributivism is the notion that punishment is justified because, and only because, the wrongdoer deserves it. Proportionality is central to retributivism. A proportional punishment is one in which the severity of a punishment is proportional to the seriousness of the offense (for example, its wrongness or harmfulness). Michael Tonry’s collection is must reading for punishments theorists. The articles are well-chosen and the reflections of theorists such as Andreas von Hirsch, R. A. Duff, and Douglas Husak who have shaped punishment theory (...)
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  21. Punishment and Discretion in Mill's Utilitarianism.Piers Norris Turner - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (2):165-178.
    I argue that a notorious passage from Utilitarianism concerning the relationship between morality and blameworthiness need not be an obstacle to a consistent act-utilitarian interpretation of Mill's moral theory. First, the Art of Life provides a framework for reconciling Mill's evaluation of conduct in terms of both expediency and blameworthiness. Like contemporary sophisticated act-utilitarians, Mill treats expediency as the more fundamental category of evaluation. Second, textual evidence suggests that, on Mill's view, evaluations of blameworthiness are not strictly bound by rules, (...)
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  22. Desert, Responsibility, and Justification: A Reply to Doris, McGeer, and Robinson.Manuel R. Vargas - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2659-2678.
    Building Better Beings: A Theory of Moral Responsibility argues that the normative basis of moral responsibility is anchored in the effects of responsibility practices. Further, the capacities required for moral responsibility are socially scaffolded. This article considers criticisms of this account that have been recently raised by John Doris, Victoria McGeer, and Michael Robinson. Robinson argues against Building Better Beings’s rejection of libertarianism about free will, and the account of desert at stake in the theory. considers methodological questions that arise (...)
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  23. Gratitude Toward Veterans: Why Americans Should Not Be Very Grateful to Veterans.Stephen Kershnar - 2014 - Lexington Books.
    Americans are very grateful to veterans. Veterans are celebrated via speeches, statues, memorials, holidays, and affirmative action. They are lavishly praised in public gatherings and private conversations. Contrary to this widespread attitude, I argue that U.S. citizens should not be very grateful to veterans. In evaluating whether the significant gratitude toward veterans is justified, I begin by exploring the nature of gratitude. On my account, one person should be very grateful to a second person just in case the second person (...)
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  24. Two Faces of Desert.Matt King - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (3):401-424.
    There are two broadly competing pictures of moral responsibility. On the view I favor, to be responsible for some action is to be related to it in such a way that licenses attributing certain properties to the agent, properties like blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. Responsibility is attributability. A different view understands being responsible in terms of our practices of holding each other responsible. Responsibility is accountability, which “involves a social setting in which we demand (require) certain conduct from one another and (...)
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  25. Technological Progress and Responsibility.Nikil Mukerji - 2014 - In Fiorella Battaglia, Nikil Mukerji & Julian Nida-Rümelin (eds.), Rethinking Responsibility in Science and Technology. Pisa University Press. pp. 25-36.
    In this essay, I will examine how technological progress affects the responsibilities of human agents. To this end, I will distinguish between two interpretations of the concept of responsibility, viz. responsibility as attributability and substantive responsibility. On the former interpretation, responsibility has to do with the idea of authorship. When we say that a person is responsible for her actions we mean that she is to be seen as the author of these actions. They can be attributed to her, such (...)
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  26. Does Division Multiply Desert?Theron Pummer - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (1):43-77.
    It seems plausible that (i) how much punishment a person deserves cannot be affected by the mere existence or nonexistence of another person. We might have also thought that (ii) how much punishment is deserved cannot increase merely in virtue of personal division. I argue that (i) and (ii) are inconsistent with the popular belief that, other things being equal, when people culpably do very wrong or bad acts, they ought to be punished for this—even if they have repented, are (...)
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  27. More on the Comparative Nature of Desert: Can a Deserved Punishment Be Unjust?Ronen Avraham & Daniel Statman - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (3):316-333.
    Adam and Eve have the same record yet receive different punishments. Adam receives the punishment that they both deserve, whereas Eve receives a more lenient punishment. In this article, we explore whether a deserved-but-unequal punishment, such as what Adam receives, can be just. We do this by explicating the conceptions of retributive justice that underlie both sides of the debate. We argue that inequality in punishment is disturbing mainly because of the disrespect it often expresses towards the offender receiving the (...)
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  28. Some Theses on Desert.Randolph Clarke - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations 16 (2):153-64.
    Consider the idea that suffering of some specific kind is deserved by those who are guilty of moral wrongdoing. Feeling guilty is a prime example. It might be said that it is noninstrumentally good that one who is guilty feel guilty (at the right time and to the right degree), or that feeling guilty (at the right time and to the right degree) is apt or fitting for one who is guilty. Each of these claims constitutes an interesting thesis about (...)
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  29. Badain Jaran: The Forgotten Desert.Carlos Crespo - 2013 - Scheidegger & Spiess.
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  30. Two Claims About Desert.Nathan Hanna - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):41-56.
    Many philosophers claim that it is always intrinsically good when people get what they deserve and that there is always at least some reason to give people what they deserve. I highlight problems with this view and defend an alternative. I have two aims. First, I want to expose a gap in certain desert-based justifications of punishment. Second, I want to show that those of us who have intuitions at odds with these justifications have an alternative account of desert at (...)
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  31. Reviving a Desert Landscape. Rao Jodha Desert Park in Jodhpur, India.Akshay Kaul - 2013 - Topos: European Landscape Magazine 82:88.
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  32. Priority and Desert.Matthew Rendall - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):939-951.
    Michael Otsuka, Alex Voorhoeve and Marc Fleurbaey have challenged the priority view in favour of a theory based on competing claims. The present paper shows how their argument can be used to recast the priority view. All desert claims in distributive justice are comparative. The stronger a party’s claims to a given benefit, the greater is the value of her receiving it. Ceteris paribus, the worse-off have stronger claims on welfare, and benefits to them matter more. This can account for (...)
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  33. Retributivism and Resources.Jesper Ryberg - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (1):66-79.
    A traditional overall distinction between the various versions of retributive theories of punishment is that between positive and negative retributivism. This article addresses the question of what positive retributivism – and thus the obligation to punish perpetrators – implies for a society in which the state has many other types of obligation. Several approaches to this question are considered. It is argued that the resource priority question constitutes a genuine and widely ignored challenge for positive retributivist theories of punishment.Send article (...)
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  34. The Paradox of Moral Complaint: A Reply to Shaham.Saul Smilansky - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (2):277-282.
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  35. Moral Responsibility and Merit.Matt King - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (2):1-18.
    In the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the ‘desert-entailing sense’. Despite this agreement, little has been said about the notion of desert that is supposedly entailed. In this paper I propose an understanding of desert sufficient to help explain why the blameworthy and praiseworthy deserve blame and praise, respectively. I do so by drawing upon what might seem an unusual resource. I appeal to so-called Fitting-Attitude accounts of value to help inform (...)
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  36. Punishment and the Moral Emotions: Essays in Law, Morality, and Religion.Jeffrie G. Murphy - 2012 - Oup Usa.
    The essays in this collection explore, from philosophical and religious perspectives, a variety of moral emotions and their relationship to punishment and condemnation or to decisions to lessen punishment or condemnation.
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  37. How to Adjust Utility for Desert.Bradford Skow - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):235-257.
    It is better when people get what they deserve. So we need an axiology according to which the intrinsic value of a possible world is a function of both how well-off and how deserving the people in that world are. But how should these ?desert-adjusted? values of possible worlds be calculated? It is easy to come up with some qualitative ideas. But these qualitative ideas leave us with an embarrassment of riches: too many quantitative functions that implement those qualitative ideas. (...)
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  38. Duty and Liability.Victor Tadros - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (2):259-277.
    In his recent book, Killing in War, Jeff McMahan sets out a number of conditions for a person to be liable to attack, provided the attack is used to avert an objectively unjust threat: (1) The threat, if realized, will wrongfully harm another; (2) the person is responsible for creating the threat; (3) killing the person is necessary to avert the threat, and (4) killing the person is a proportionate response to the threat. The present article focuses on McMahan's second (...)
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  39. On Fairness and Claims.Patrick Tomlin - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (2):200-213.
    Perhaps the best-known theory of fairness is John Broome’s: that fairness is the proportional satisfaction of claims. In this article, I question whether claims are the appropriate focus for a theory of fairness, at least as Broome understands them in his current theory. If fairness is the proportionate satisfaction of claims, I argue, then the following would be true: fairness could not help determine the correct distribution of claims; fairness could not be used to evaluate the distribution of claims; fairness (...)
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  40. Bentham on Presumed Offences.Frederick Schauer - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (4):363-379.
    In the Principles of the Penal Code, Jeremy Bentham described offences that he labelled presumed or evidentiary. The conduct penalized under such offences is punished not because it is intrinsically wrong, but because it probabilistically indicates the presence of an intrinsic wrong. Bentham was sceptical of the need to create offences, but grudgingly accepted their value in light of deficiencies in procedure and the judiciary. These days the scepticism is even greater, with courts and commentators in the United States, Canada, (...)
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  41. Is There a Paradox of Moral Complaint?Talia Shaham - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (3):344-351.
    Do victims of moral wrongdoing have moral grounds to complain if they have freely committed a similar wrongdoing in the past? This question explores the connection between the moral standing of complainers and their previous deeds. According to Saul Smilansky two equally justifiable competing views create an antinomy with respect to the said question. In this article I present two arguments that attempt to undermine Smilansky's alleged paradox, presenting it as no more than a resolvable moral conflict. My first argument (...)
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  42. Do You Deserve To Be Talented?Ezequiel Spector - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (1):115-125.
    Are inborn characteristics deserved or undeserved? Using Bertrand Russell's theory of descriptions and Peter Strawson's objection to this theory, I argue that this question does not make sense. In order to know whether a person deserves something she has, it is necessary to evaluate what she did before having it. But people did not exist before their birth, so they did not exist before having their inborn characteristics. Therefore, talking about people deserving their inborn characteristics does not make sense: these (...)
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  43. Revisionism and Desert.Lene Bomann-Larsen - 2010 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 4 (1):1-16.
    Revisionists claim that the retributive intuitions informing our responsibility-attributing practices are unwarranted under determinism, not only because they are false, but because if we are all victims of causal luck, it is unfair to treat one another as if we are deserving of moral and legal sanctions. One revisionist strategy recommends a deflationary concept of moral responsibility, and that we justify punishment in consequentialist rather than retributive terms. Another revisionist strategy recommends that we eliminate all concepts of guilt, blame and (...)
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  44. Distributive and Retributive Desert in Rawls.Jake Greenblum - 2010 - Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (2):169-184.
    In this paper I examine John Rawls’s understanding of desert. Against Samuel Scheffler, I maintain that the reasons underlying Rawls’s rejection of the traditional view of distributive desert in A Theory of Justice also commit him to rejecting the traditional view of retributive desert. Unlike Rawls’s critics, however, I view this commitment in a positive light. I also argue that Rawls’s later work commits him to rejecting retributivism as a public justification for punishment.
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  45. An Aristotelian Approach to Cognitive Enhancement.Lubomira V. Radoilska - 2010 - Journal of Value Inquiry 44 (3):365–375.
    In this paper, I argue that cognitive enhancement cannot be epistemically beneficial since getting things right in particular and epistemic agency in general both presuppose a kind of achievement. Drawing on Aristotle’s ethics, I distinguish four categories of actions: caused, attributable, responsible, and creditable. I conclude that to the extent that cognitive enhancement is incompatible with the latter category it undermines rather than strengthens autonomous agency in the realm of cognition.
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  46. Moral Desert: A Critique.Howard Simmons - 2010 - University Press of America.
    This book argues that moral desert should be excluded as a consideration in normative and applied ethics, as it is likely that no-one ever morally deserves anything for their actions and, if they do, it is in most cases impossible to know what. I also explain how moral deliberation in relation to punishment, distributive justice and personal morality can proceed without appeals to moral desert.
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  47. Moral Projection and the Intelligibility of Collective Forgiveness.Harry Bunting - 2009 - Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society 7:107 - 120.
    ABSTRACT. The paper explores the philosophical intelligibility of contemporary defences of collective political forgiveness against a background of sceptical doubt, both general and particular. Three genera sceptical arguments are examined: one challenges the idea that political collectives exist; another challenges the idea that moral agency can be projected upon political collectives; a final argument challenges the attribution of emotions, especially anger, to collectives. Each of these sceptical arguments is rebutted. At a more particular level, the contrasts between individual forgiveness and (...)
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  48. Against Desert as a Forward-Looking Concept.Peter Celello - 2009 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (2):144-159.
    Fred Feldman and, more recently, David Schmidtz have challenged the standard view that a person's desert is based strictly on past and present facts about him. I argue that Feldman's attempt to overturn this 'received wisdom' about desert's temporal orientation is unsuccessful, since his examples do not establish that what a person deserves now can be based on what will occur in the future. In addition, his forward-looking account introduces an unnecessary asymmetry regarding desert's temporal orientation in different contexts. Schmidtz (...)
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  49. Desert and Virtue: A Theory of Intrinsic Value.Stephen Kershnar - 2009 - Lexington Books.
    Desert and Virtue: A Theory of Intrinsic Value presents a comprehensive examination of desert and what makes people deserve things. Stephen Kershnar demonstrates how desert relates to virtue, good deeds, moral responsibility, and personal change and growth through the life process. He persuasively argues that desert is a function that relates well-being, intrinsic value, and a "ground," which is defined as a person's character or act.
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  50. Private Revenge and its Relation to Punishment.Brian Rosebury - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (1):1-21.
    In contrast to the vast literature on retributive theories of punishment, discussions of private revenge are rare in moral philosophy. This paper reviews some examples, from both classical and recent writers, finding uncertainty and equivocation over the ethical significance of acts of revenge, and in particular over their possible resemblances, in motive, purpose or justification, to acts of lawful punishment. A key problem for the coherence of our ethical conception of revenge is the consideration that certain acts of revenge may (...)
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