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The Retreat of ReasonA dilemma in the philosophy of life$
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Ingmar Persson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199276900.001.0001

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The Retreat of Reason

Ingmar Persson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes a preview of the argument of part V. It draws the fundamental distinction between direct and ultimate responsibility. Direct responsibility is the responsibility we have for our actions in virtue of their being controlled by our intentions or foresight. This responsibility is compatible with determinism and sufficient for a forward-looking justification of punishment and reward, blame and praise. Ultimate responsibility requires that we are responsible for our intentions and other states in virtue of which we have direct responsibility. It is presupposed by backward-looking justification in terms of desert but, irrespective of whether determinism or indeterminism is correct, it is still the case that we are not ultimately responsible.

Keywords:   backward-looking justification, desert, determinism, direct responsibility, forward-looking justification, ultimate responsibility

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