Blame, desert and compatibilist capacity

a diachronic account of moderateness in regards to reasons-responsiveness

Nicole A. Vincent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that John Fischer and Mark Ravizza's compatibilist theory of moral responsibility cannot justify reactive attitudes like blame and desert-based practices like retributive punishment. The problem with their account, I argue, is that their analysis of moderateness in regards to reasons-responsiveness has the wrong normative features. However, I propose an alternative account of what it means for a mechanism to be moderately reasons-responsive which addresses this deficiency. In a nut shell, while Fischer and Ravizza test for moderate reasons-responsiveness by checking how a mechanism behaves in a given time slice across other possible worlds, on my account we should ask how that mechanism behaves in this world over a span of time-specifically, whether it responds to reasons sufficiently often. My diachronic account is intended as a drop-in replacement for Fischer and Ravizza's synchronic account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-194
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Explorations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


  • responsibility
  • capacity
  • compatibilism
  • blame
  • punishment
  • retribution

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