Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Type of Thesis
College of Arts and Science Honors, Honors College
hard incompatibilism, punishment, criminal law, Pereboom, free will, moral responsibility
It is widely believed that free will is a necessary condition for moral responsibility. Derk Pereboom's four-case manipulation argument offers good reason to believe that we do not have sort of free will. But if we cannot be held morally responsible for any of our actions, then there might be serious problems with the way our system of punishment is currently set up. This thesis explores that problem. I argue that if we cannot be held morally responsible for our actions, then we must either revise our notions of moral responsibility or we must revise our system of crime control. Manuel Vargas has argued that we ought to do the former, whereas Pereboom has argued that we ought to do the latter. However, neither of these options comes without substantial flaws. In the final chapter of this thesis, I offer a positive view to solve the problem of moral responsibility and crime control. I follow Pereboom's lead by arguing that we should change our current system of crime control, but we should place more focus on creating better moral agents—as Vargas suggests. The framework for my positive view comes in the form of rule consequentialism, a view that seeks to establish the best rules that aim to produce the best overall consequences in society. I argue that this approach avoids the problems we see in Vargas's and Pereboom's approaches, but still achieves everything we want to achieve in a system of crime control.
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Berthelette, Samantha M., "Hard Incompatibilism and Criminal Law" (2015). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 78.