Blame and Desert

Manuel Vargas

in Building Better Beings

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199697540
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191748851 | DOI:
Blame and Desert

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This chapter fills in the details of how the account handles blame and desert. The first part of the chapter focuses on exculpation, and the question of how the norms of responsibility (roughly, norms characterizable in terms of quality of will) interact with the dynamic nature of moral considerations-responsive agency. A key idea that emerges is that moral ecology—or the way in which circumstances affect our dispositions to morally good and bad behavior—is important. The second part of the chapter concerns desert, and the basis on which it makes sense to regard people as deserving moralized praise and blame. The chapter argues that Pereboom’s notion of basic desert is to be rejected, but that a plausible account of desert is given by something called the social self-governance model of desert. This is a picture of desert on which responsible agents deserve reactions to their blameworthy actions because such reactions help aid agents in their self-governance in light of moral considerations.

Keywords: blame; desert; moral ecology; basic desert; social self-governance; Pereboom; Bennett; Picou; blameworthiness

Chapter.  13898 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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