What Makes A Moral Responsibility? Essay

What Makes A Moral Responsibility? Essay

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Strawson argues that determinism, which is the idea that any and everything is predetermined and inevitable in nature, does not necessarily have to be true in order for us to claim that we are not morally responsible for any of our actions. In essence, whether or not there is an external force that determines our actions, we cannot be held morally responsible for being who we are. First, moral responsibility is deserving to be praised or blamed for one’s actions based on one’s moral obligations. By his standards, our predetermined fate is ultimately morally responsible for what we do and who we are. According to Strawson, free will is simply not real because that would result in us being truly responsible for our actions as a result of being able to exercise that will. However, the lack of free will thereof means that there is something or someone who has outlined our actions through none of our fault, thus relieving us of that ultimate moral responsibility. In contrast, if our actions are indeterministic, then there is no one or nothing at the root of our actions and effectively, we are the way we are because we chose to be that way. By no one or nothing, I assume Strawson means no God, no early circumstances, or no other determining factor.

While Strawson makes some strong assertions about the impossibility of moral responsibility, it is vulnerable in parts to some objections due to a flaw within his argument. The flaw within his argument lies in his premise that we are not responsible for who we are in any given respect. He has already dismissed the need for determinism, and as such, has dismissed the thought of spontaneous action. Spontaneous action is neither predicted nor caused, but purely a matter of chance or random beh...


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...is not the same as a predetermined cause, an objector can show that we or an external force, for example a supreme being or God, can be cognizant of what will happen when we undertake certain actions, whether morally good or bad.
By looking at the libertarian objection, which states that there are in fact instances in which we are allowed to exercise free will, this almost repeals the previous objection. The view that indeterminism instead of determinism exists somewhat lends to the confusion that Strawson creates. We are still unsure of what is the right idea of moral responsibility is, and Strawson’s objection to the libertarian view actually attacks a claim which they did not necessarily make. It is unclear to me exactly what they meant, but the point is this presents a weakness in his argument but does not really relate to the main flaw or fault explored above.

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