Difficulty and Degrees of Moral Praiseworthiness and Blameworthiness

Noûs 50 (2):356-378 (2016)
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In everyday life, we assume that there are degrees of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. Yet the debate about the nature of moral responsibility often focuses on the “yes or no” question of whether indeterminism is required for moral responsibility, while questions about what accounts for more or less blameworthiness or praiseworthiness are underexplored. In this paper, I defend the idea that degrees of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness can depend in part on degrees of difficulty and degrees of sacrifice required for performing the action in question. Then I turn to the question of how existing accounts of the nature of moral responsibility might be seen to accommodate these facts. In each case of prominent compatibilist and incompatibilist accounts that I consider, I argue that supplementation with added dimensions is required in order to account for facts about degrees of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. For example, I argue that the reasons-responsiveness view of Fischer and Ravizza requires supplementation that takes us beyond even fine-grained measures of degrees of reasons-responsiveness in order to capture facts about degrees of difficulty to extend the reasons-responsiveness view by appealing to such measures). I conclude by showing that once we recognize the need for these additional parameters, we will be in a position to explain away at least some of the appeal of incompatibilist accounts of moral responsibility.



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Dana Kay Nelkin
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Moral Luck and The Unfairness of Morality.Robert J. Hartman - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3179-3197.
Explaining (away) the epistemic condition on moral responsibility.Gunnar Björnsson - 2017 - In Philip Robichaud & Jan Willem Wieland (eds.), Responsibility - The Epistemic Condition. Oxford University Press. pp. 146–162.
Praise.Daniel Telech - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (10):1-19.

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References found in this work

Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.

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