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Doing without Desert

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The idea of ‘moral responsibility’ is typically linked with praise and blame, and with the notion of ‘the voluntary’. It is often thought that if we are free, in the relevant sense, we may “deserve” praise or blame; otherwise, we do not. But when we look at whether and why we need the notions of praise and blame, we find that they are not as intimately connected with desert as many philosophers have thought. In particular, this paper challenges the idea that forms of evaluation and behavior tied to our “reactive attitudes” (especially resentment) best further morality’s aims, properly understood.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy Tufts University

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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