Revisionism and Desert

Criminal Law and Philosophy 4 (1):1-16 (2010)
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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 punishment, and treat dangerous criminals as we treat people with contagious diseases. I argue against both strong and moderate revisionism that it is not unfair to hold persons desert -entailingly responsible insofar as they take an interest in being treated as appraisable, and that it is unfair to persons not to treat them as desert -entailingly responsible contrary to their interests in being treated as such. The interest-based argument, I conclude, give us a justification for communicating retributive attitudes, but may still require a weak revision of our retributive practices, in the direction of a communicative theory of punishment



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Basic desert, conceptual revision, and moral justification.Nadine Elzein - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations 16 (2):212-225.

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
The Illusion of Conscious Will.Daniel M. Wegner - 2002 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

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