Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Caucus Q's Answered: 11 AM

1. What are the implications for moral luck of Scanlon's relationship-based theory of blame?  Is Scanlon's view consistent with moral luck?

Moral luck is just luck that makes you morally better or worse.  According to Scanlon's theory, we are to blame when we harm and change the relationships that we have with other people.  Since unlucky consequences can harm and change our relationships, Scanlon's view can explain moral luck.

2. How can we avoid academic dishonesty when many of the paper prompts are addressed on the blog?  

Cite your sources!  Also, whenever possible, use your own words to explain ideas and arguments.  If you do use someone else's words or ideas, cite them.  Try to cite as far back as possible (citing the original texts will be better than citing my blog in many cases).  You can use many resources: this blog, Dr. James' lecture notes, lecture itself and the texts we read.  Be sure that you cite the sources you use.

3. What is Strawson's POV on moral responsibility?  What is his definition of moral responsibility?

Strawson is working with a notion of moral responsibility that could justify the ultimate punishment or the ultimate reward: heaven or hell.  Strawson thinks that we cannot have this level of moral responsibility because we can not be the ultimate causes of ourselves.  Even every choice we make requires that we have the capacity to make that choice.  At some point, we had to have a capacity for choice that we were not responsible for, since we cannot be the cause of an infinite chain of choices and the ability to choose that preceded those choices.

4. If a person is born with a bad characteristic, are they more or less blameworthy than a person who developed that same characteristic?

This would depend on whether the person who later acquires the bad characteristic is responsible for this development.  According to the control principle, we would only blame a person if he or she were in control of developing bad characteristics.  According to moral luck, we hold anyone born with bad characteristics responsible for that constitutive luck.  Compatibalists might say that as long as someone shapes themselves, they are responsible for his or her personality.  So either person can be held equally responsible for those bad traits if they have shaped those traits.

5. If we are not responsible for our nature but we are responsible for our actions, can we blame our actions on our nature?  Is there a direct correlation between our nature and our actions?

This is the exact question of whether determinism is compatible with moral responsibility.  Determinists think that nature is ultimately responsible.  Libertarians deny that determinism is true and say that we are responsible for everything.  Compatibalists say that determinism is true but that we still have responsibility.  I will say one more thing.  We are not concerned with mere correlation or association between nature and our actions.  The real question is whether nature causes our actions.

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