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Moral Responsibility and Merit

by Matt King

In the contemporary moral responsibility debate, most theorists seem to be giving accounts of responsibility in the "desert-entailing sense." Despite this agreement, little has been said about the notion of desert that is supposedly entailed. In this paper I propose an understanding of desert sufficient to help explain why the blameworthy and praiseworthy deserve blame and praise, respectively. I do so by drawing upon what might seem an unusual resource. I appeal to so-called Fitting-Attitude accounts of value to help inform a conception of desert or merit, one that can be usefully applied to discussions of moral responsibility. I argue that the view, which I call, Desert as Fittingness (or DAF), merits additional attention. I do so by making two claims: First, that it does better than extant Fitting Attitude accounts of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness; second, that it has an initial plausibility with respect to informing a general account of desert. While these reasons are insufficient to show the view is true, they do make the case for taking the view seriously.

ISSN 1559-3061
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