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The Impossibility Of Moral Responsibility

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Moral responsibility is a concept that has, in some way, existed in every culture and civilization that recorded history can tell us about. From the Law of Hammurabi to beliefs in judgmental gods mankind has always assumed some form of moral responsibility—whether metaphysical or within a society. While pragmatic considerations of moral responsibility seem to be necessary for living within a society, the philosophic concept of moral responsibility beckons many inherent problems that must be resolved. Galen Strawson in “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility” presents a strong argument as to why moral responsibility is impossible, while Susan Wolf responds to the problems presented, and argues that moral responsibility does exist in some…show more content…
He shows the argument in the way it exists in a person’s life, which allows for more coherent discussion, and as he later states, “new forms of objection” (314). One important note to make on Strawson’s argument is his hard determinist stance. He believes that every decision and action of a person is predetermined by their heredity and early experience. For him, no form of free will exists. While he does believe that a person is able to examine their behaviors and tendencies, their ability to self-revise is predetermined by heredity and early experience. His determinist stance allows his argument to be sound and extremely difficult to refute. Another important thing to draw from the Strawson argument is what is meant by moral responsibility. For Strawson, true moral responsibility means that one is responsible to the degree that it is sensible to either punish one with eternal torment in hell, or reward one with enteral bliss in heaven (314). His definition of moral responsibility is not confined to religious faith in heaven or hell, but rather is used to convey an absolute nature of accountability. This concept of moral responsibility as Strawson presents is pivotal in understanding his objection of moral responsibility. Strawson’s argument is not against a legislative or judicial sense of responsibility, and does not take the form of responsibility that a
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