Shaun Nichols has proposed a useful distinction regarding three different projects in the inquiry of free will and responsibility: a descriptive project, a substantive projects, and a prescriptive project. In this article we address two issues that have been recently debated in the literature on free will, moral responsibility and the theory of punishment: the first issue concerns the descriptive project, the second both the substantive and the prescriptive project. The first issue concerns the impact that the evidence for determinism, supposedly shown by cognitive sciences, would have, if popularized, on the ordinary practice of responsibility attributions. On theoretical, historical and empirical grounds, we claim that there is no rationale for fearing that the spread of neurocognitive findings will undermine the folk practice of responsibility attributions. The second issue concerns the consequences that a demonstration of the illusoriness of moral responsibility would have for the theory of punishment. In this regard, two opposite views are advocated: (i) that such a demonstration would cause the collapse of all punitive practices; (ii) that, on the contrary, such a demonstration would open the way to more humane forms of punishment, which would be justified on purely utilitarian grounds. We will argue that these views are both wrong, since whereas a sound punitive system can be justified without any reference to moral responsibility, it will certainly not improve the humaneness of punishment.

De Caro, M., & Marraffa, M. (2014). Free Will and Retribution Today. ETHICS IN PROGRESS, 5(2), 5-20 [10.14746/eip.2014.2.2].

Free Will and Retribution Today

DE CARO, Mario;MARRAFFA, MASSIMO
2014

Abstract

Shaun Nichols has proposed a useful distinction regarding three different projects in the inquiry of free will and responsibility: a descriptive project, a substantive projects, and a prescriptive project. In this article we address two issues that have been recently debated in the literature on free will, moral responsibility and the theory of punishment: the first issue concerns the descriptive project, the second both the substantive and the prescriptive project. The first issue concerns the impact that the evidence for determinism, supposedly shown by cognitive sciences, would have, if popularized, on the ordinary practice of responsibility attributions. On theoretical, historical and empirical grounds, we claim that there is no rationale for fearing that the spread of neurocognitive findings will undermine the folk practice of responsibility attributions. The second issue concerns the consequences that a demonstration of the illusoriness of moral responsibility would have for the theory of punishment. In this regard, two opposite views are advocated: (i) that such a demonstration would cause the collapse of all punitive practices; (ii) that, on the contrary, such a demonstration would open the way to more humane forms of punishment, which would be justified on purely utilitarian grounds. We will argue that these views are both wrong, since whereas a sound punitive system can be justified without any reference to moral responsibility, it will certainly not improve the humaneness of punishment.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11590/317601
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