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Against Moral Responsibility$
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Bruce N. Waller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016599

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016599.001.0001

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Creative Authorship without Ultimate Responsibility

Creative Authorship without Ultimate Responsibility

(p.257) 14 Creative Authorship without Ultimate Responsibility
Against Moral Responsibility

Bruce N. Waller

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the repercussions of giving up the belief in moral responsibility and how this can negatively affect human life. Giving up the belief in moral responsibility entails also giving up the belief that blame and punishment can be justly deserved. The arguments in this chapter all make the case that this is a great benefit. However, a strong sense that loss of ultimate responsibility is a grave loss remains even after considering the advantages of the rejection of justly deserved blame and punishment. Robert Kane and Saul Smilansky, two of the most profound proponents of moral responsibility, respond to this “loss” by ignoring it and considering what other loss comes about in denying ultimate responsibility that supports just deserts. Both philosophers concur that the loss to which they refer is a significant one.

Keywords:   moral responsibility, blame, punishment, justly deserved, ultimate responsibility, Robert Kane, Saul Smilansky, just deserts

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