The Discussion Of Morals And Moral Responsibility Essay

1647 Words Dec 1st, 2016 7 Pages
The discussion of morals and moral responsibility is deep-seated in the classic philosophical repertoire. A closely related matter, and a frequent objection to moral responsibility, is determinism, the idea that given the initial state and laws of the universe, all future events and outcomes are completely determined. Over the course of this paper, I describe a particular theory for how moral responsibility can exist even in a deterministic universe.
One prominent view in the realm of moral responsibility is the libertarian stance. Libertarians believe that moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism because they see humans as necessarily free and morally responsible agents. In his essay “Free Will, Praise, and Blame,” J. J. C. Smart refutes the libertarian theory and puts forth his own framework for understanding the question of moral responsibility. Smart claims the libertarian perspective is unfounded because it is built on a contradiction. He contends that there are only two ways events may occur: through causal continuity or by pure chance. If all events are causally continuous, all outcomes can theoretically be predicted if the initial state of the universe is known. If some events occur rely on pure chance, it becomes impossible to accurately predict outcomes, no matter how precise our knowledge of the initial state is. Libertarians believe that people cannot be held morally responsible if their actions are determined, that moral responsibility is altogether…

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