Determinism, Blameworthiness, and Deprivation

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Clarendon Press, 1990 - Philosophy - 232 pages
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This book casts new light on the classic dispute between `compatibilists' and `incompatibilists' about determinism and moral responsibility. Martha Klein argues that the traditional account of the dispute, turning as it does on the notion of the agent's `ability to have acted otherwise',misrepresents the real disagreement, which arises from the compatibilists' conviction that it is sufficient for blameworthiness that an agent's wrongdoing was the result of a morally reprehensible frame of mind, and the incompatibilists' insistence that wrongdoers cannot be morally responsible fortheir actions if they are not responsible for their motivating desires and beliefs. The incompatibilist position seems compelling when, for instance, we consider wrongdoers whose desires and attitudes can be traced to early emotional deprivation. The author argues that our response to these andother `problem cases' commits us to an incompatibilist condition for blameworthiness which is actually unfulfillable. In her view, however, some reflections on emotional deprivation should also encourage acceptance of a compatibilist condition which will satisfy our desire to be just more fully thanthe usual proposals emanating from either side of the debate.

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About the author (1990)

Martha Klein is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Christ Church, Oxford.

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