Compatibilism and personal identity

Philosophical Studies 170 (2):317-334 (2014)
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Compatibilists disagree over whether there are historical conditions on moral responsibility. Historicists claim there are, whilst structuralists deny this. Historicists motivate their position by claiming to avoid the counter-intuitive implications of structuralism. I do two things in this paper. First, I argue that historicism has just as counter-intuitive implications as structuralism when faced with thought experiments inspired by those found in the personal identity literature. Hence, historicism is not automatically preferable to structuralism. Second, I argue that structuralism is much more plausible once we accept that personal identity is irrelevant to moral responsibility. This paves the way for a new structuralist account that makes clear what it takes to be the diachronic ownership condition (which is normally taken to be personal identity) and the locus of moral responsibility (which is normally taken to be ‘whole’ person), and helps to alleviate the intuitive unease many have with respect to structuralism

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Benjamin Matheson
University of Bern

Citations of this work

Is Blameworthiness Forever?Andrew C. Khoury & Benjamin Matheson - 2018 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4 (2):204-224.
Moral responsibility.Andrew Eshleman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Forgiveness, Repentance, and Diachronic Blameworthiness.Andrew C. Khoury - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (4):700-720.
In defence of the Four-Case Argument.Benjamin Matheson - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1963-1982.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Living Without Free Will.Derk Pereboom - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Free Will and Luck.Alfred R. Mele - 2006 - New York, US: Oxford University Press.

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