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Hard Incompatibilism, and the Rejection of Moral Responsibility: A Skeptical Look at an Optimistic Account

7 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017 Last revised: 10 May 2017

Larry Alexander

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

In a series of recent papers, Derk Pereboom and Gregg Caruso endorse hard incompatibilism. That is, they accept determinism and reject compatibilism (the compatibility of determinism with the free will required for moral responsibility). They thus deny what they call “basic desert moral responsibility” and reject, as the corollaries of basic desert moral responsibility, both the negative reactive attitudes (blame, indignation, guilt) and their positive counterparts.

Despite their rejection of basic desert, negative and positive, and the appurtenant reactive attitudes, Pereboom and Caruso argue other moral judgments, such as good and bad and right and wrong, are not threatened, nor will society’s ability to deal with immoral behavior, including criminal conduct, be hampered.

I do not share their sanguine conclusions.

Keywords: Incompatibilism; Desert; Blame; Punishment; Morality; Determinism

JEL Classification: A00, A10, K10, K14

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Larry, Hard Incompatibilism, and the Rejection of Moral Responsibility: A Skeptical Look at an Optimistic Account (2017). San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 17-259. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2921469

Lawrence Alexander (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-2317 (Phone)
619-260-4728 (Fax)

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