This site is supported by Nobility Studios.

Discussion following from a Pereboom symposium

5 posts in this topic

Posted

Recently, while Hugo was in Orlando and riding Space Mountain, he sent me a link (sort of like Larry Fitzgerald catching passes from Brees, Luck, and Kaepernick while managing to use his smartphone) which, at first glance (and I have only had time to skim the papers linked to at the provided link as well as the associated further comments), looks as if it might serve as fodder for some interesting discussion here.

Even after I have had a chance to pay more thorough attention to the series of articles, I expect that my own interests will lead me to a course similar to the one suggested by a comment that Fischer posted, one which he attributed to Sofia Jeppson:

Derk,

Here is an issue I've been thinking since Sofia Jeppson raised it in the summer school on free will/moral responsibility in Russia this summer. So I owe it to Sofia. You argue that we don't have the sort of control or free will that would be required for moral responsibility, traditionally conceived (in terms of basic desert-based reactive attitudes). You argue for an alternative conception of moral responsibility, stripped of its retributive and basic-desert-based components. It is very attractive. The question is why we shouldn't opt for this alternative approach, even if we do have the kind of control or free will in question? That is, the arguments don't seem to hinge on our not having this control; even if we had it, wouldn't at least most of the considerations still impell us toward rejecting the retributive reactive attitudes, and so forth?

Michael

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Do I correctly understand that the attraction noted is to a less-severe (positively or negatively) reaction to a success or failure regarding a particular moral responsibility? I haven't read more than a little bit of Caruso's precis and admit the terminology leaves me a little behind, but I think that's the thrust.

What is particularly attractive about that? That is, assume one has the absolute control, the free will, required for moral responsibility, and an agent (the one him- or herself or some other) is assessing a particular act against the standard of moral responsibility. What is gained by diluting the severity of the response, either the praise or reprobation? Is it merely the dampening effect, the resultant tendency for smaller perturbations of appraisal, or is there something else typically discussed in this domain?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We have a thread on Pereboom's hard incompatibilist doctrine, so perhaps that is worth reviving in light of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Do I correctly understand that the attraction noted is to a less-severe (positively or negatively) reaction to a success or failure regarding a particular moral responsibility? I haven't read more than a little bit of Caruso's precis and admit the terminology leaves me a little behind, but I think that's the thrust.

What is particularly attractive about that? That is, assume one has the absolute control, the free will, required for moral responsibility, and an agent (the one him- or herself or some other) is assessing a particular act against the standard of moral responsibility. What is gained by diluting the severity of the response, either the praise or reprobation? Is it merely the dampening effect, the resultant tendency for smaller perturbations of appraisal, or is there something else typically discussed in this domain?

I am going to hazard a guess about what Fischer finds attractive; it might be an overly generous guess if it does not actually capture what Fischer has in mind while being what he would be well advised to have in mind. HehHeh.

When Fischer describes "an alternative conception of moral responsibility, stripped of its retributive and basic-desert-based components", I suppose that he is noting how retribution commonly follows from what might well be the primitive ("being the first or earliest of the kind") sense of morality which bases morality and moral responsibility on notions of what it is to be justified as blameworthy or praiseworthy.

For morality conceived of predominantly in terms of an individual responsibility that is somehow justifiably blameworthy or praiseworthy, if the primary concern and actual practice is effectively a focus upon the assignment of blame (which certainly does seem to be the case much of the time for most people in real-life situations), and if retribution follows with seeming necessity from morality conceived of primarily in terms of the just-deserts of blameworthiness or praiseworthiness with especial emphasis upon and interest in blameworthiness, then any distinction between morality and retribution becomes practically seamless such that morality becomes largely a matter of or concern with retribution.

If the basic-desert basis for morality is defective, or if it is an inadequate way of regarding morality, then - given the extent of attention paid to retribution as suggested above - it makes sense to first list the retributive component of morality conceived in terms of the just-deserts basis for morality.

This is to say that the attractiveness which Fischer finds does not have to follow from some personal prejudice he might have against what he could well regard as an appetite that many people seem to have for retribution. Instead, it is possible that Fischer could simply be acknowledging that morality is better conceived of in terms other than just-deserts. In fact, Sofia Jeppson's recognition that this alternative of morality as something distinct from a simple just-deserts basis can apply whether or not there is the kind of control or free will that Pereboom discusses is, logically speaking, good reason for investigating morality as something beyond (or, at least, in addition to) matters of just-deserts.

One typical way of thinking about the just-deserts basis for morality is in terms of fairness. However, John Rawls - as part of his work on justice as fairness - has presented his notion of the original position in which fairness arises as independent of or prior to questions of just-desert, and that very notion can be seen as one that already goes beyond the notion of morality as essentially a matter of just-deserts even if that way of thinking about morality is primitive such that it is always with us while we seek out what else characterizes senses of morality.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We have a thread on Pereboom's hard incompatibilist doctrine, so perhaps that is worth reviving in light of this.

I'll give this a look-see.

Michael, I appreciate this summary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now