chapter  1
1 Pages

Introduction

WithDana Kay Nelkin

Responsibility, blameworthiness in particular, has been characterized in a number of ways in a literature in which participants appear to be talking about the same thing much of the time. More specifically, blameworthiness has been characterized in terms of what sorts of responses are fair, appropriate, and deserved in a basic way, where the responses in question range over blame, sanctions, alterations to interpersonal relationships, and the reactive attitudes, such as resentment and indignation. In this paper, I explore the relationships between three particular theses: (i) the claim that one is blameworthy to the extent that it is fair to impose sanctions, (ii) the claim that one is blameworthy to the extent that one deserves sanctions, and (iii) the claim that one is blameworthy to the extent that it is appropriate to respond with reactive attitudes. Appealing to the way in which luck in the outcome of an action can justifiably affect the degree of sanctions received, I argue that (i) is false and that fairness and desert come apart. I then argue that the relationship between the reactive attitudes and sanction is not as straightforward as has sometimes been assumed, but that (ii) and (iii) might both be true and closely linked. I conclude by exploring various claims about desert, including ones that link it to the intrinsic goodness of receiving what is deserved and to the permissibility or rightness of inflicting suffering.

Keywords: desert; responsibility; accountability; fairness; reactive attitudes; moral luck