Mario De Caro, Massimo Marraffa

Freedom, Responsibility, and Retributivism

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In his article Caruana argues that if the neuroscientific insights regarding the processes underlying human action were made available, people will cease to see each other as morally responsible, thus creating a troubling quandary for our legal systems. We reconstruct the argument on which this reasoning is based and argue three claims against it: (i) that the empirical studies on folk intuitions about freedom, determinism and responsibility did not make it clear if the folk is naturally incompatibilist or compatibilist; (ii) that on theoretical and empirical grounds one should doubt that the dissemination of the (supposed) evidence for determinism would undermine our ordinary practice of responsibility attribution; (iii) that the penal systems embodying the ideal of justice need not to necessarily rest on a purely retributivist conception of punishment.

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