Philosophical Explorations 16 (2):1-20 (2013)

Bertram F. Malle
Brown University
Adina Roskies
Dartmouth College
P.F. Strawson famously argued that reactive attitudes and ordinary moral practices justify moral assessments of blame, praise, and punishment. Here we consider whether Strawson's approach can illuminate the concept of desert. After reviewing standard attempts to analyze this concept and finding them lacking, we suggest that to deserve something is to justifiably receive a moral assessment in light of certain criteria – in particular, eligibility criteria and assignment criteria. Strawson's analysis of the ordinary attitudes and practices of moral assessment hints at these criteria but does not unequivocally ground a notion of desert. Following Strawson's general naturalistic approach, we show that recent psychological research on folk concepts and practices regarding freedom, moral responsibility, and blame illuminates how people actually arrive at moral assessments, thus revealing the very eligibility criteria and assignment criteria we suggest ground a concept of desert. By pushing the Strawsonian line even further than Strawson did, by empirically investigating actual moral practice and folk understandings, we can illuminate desert and lend credence to Strawson's general anti-metaphysical position.
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DOI 10.1080/13869795.2013.787439
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References found in this work BETA

On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Questions for a Science of Moral Responsibility.Marcelo Fischborn - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2):381-394.

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