Public Affairs Quarterly 20 (3):219-233 (2006)

Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University
There are three attractive principles that are held by many desert theorists. (1) Character-Desert Principle: A person’s character is a ground of moral desert. (2) Limited Responsibility for Character Principle: Persons are not fully morally responsible for their character. (3) Moral Responsibility Principle: If something grounds moral desert in a person, then she is fully morally responsible for it. Each of these principles is backed by some strong intuitions or arguments. In this paper, I argue that we should reject the Moral Responsibility Principle. This principle is not supported by an analysis of act-based desert. This rejection is in line with the observation that desert is affected by a number of factors that are outside of an individual’s control, e.g., degree of autonomy and desire content. It also fits with an explanation of desert in terms of fittingness.
Keywords Desert  Moral Responsibility  Fittingness  Character  Virtue  Vice  Motive  Wrongdoing
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