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Moralische Verantwortung, Freiheit und Kausalität

Versuch der Auflösung des Patts zwischen Kompatibilisten und Inkompatibilisten

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Many incompatibilists and compatibilists agree that freedom is a precondition of moral responsibility. Many incompatibilists acknowledge that certain varieties of freedom are compatible with determinism. The dissent concerns the question of whether such compatibilist freedoms suffice for moral responsibility. The debate is stuck in a stalemate. I try to show that the stalemate can be overcome by approaching the question not in terms of freedom, but of responsibility. To call an agent morally responsible for an event is to claim that (i) a relation holds between her and the event which makes it possible to (ii) judge her morally in the light of the event. I argue that the relevant relations are causal ones, relations compatible with determinism. The moral assessment of an agent is in turn determined by the quality of her will. The question as to the quality of a will does not depend on its causal history, and so a fortiori is independent of whether this history unfolded in a determined way or not. Hence, both of the constitutive elements of moral responsibility (i&ii) are compatible with determinism. This compatibilist result can be reformulated in terms of freedom, thus overcoming the stalemate.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2009


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