As Tamler reminded me, October is a 31 and not a 15 day month, so after taking a week off, I figure I should get back to it. Since I want to ease back into things, here's the follow-up post on the asymmetry of praise- and blameworthiness that I promised earlier.
I've long thought that Susan Wolf and (more recently) Dana Nelkin are right to claim that there is an asymmetry in the conditions under which agents are praise- and blameworthy. Now being a good semi-compatibilist, I don't think that the difference is the one that Wolf and Nelkin argue for--plausibly, the ability to do otherwise is not required for praise- or blameworthiness. But nonetheless, I think they're on to something important, which I want to explore.
Of course, many Flickers regulars do think that the ability to do otherwise is required for moral responsibility. And although I'm familiar with Fischer's Frankfurt-based response to Wolf and Nelkin's proposed asymmetry, this sort of response is not available to those who do take the freedom to do otherwise to be necessary for moral responsibility. So I wonder what such views have to say to Wolf and Nelkin's proposed asymmetry? Specifically I wonder (following Wolf), what's added by injecting an agent with the ability to act against what she knows herself to have most reason to do? But I also wonder (following Nelkin) that for those who ground the requirement that agents be able to do otherwise in something like 'Ought Implies Can', how is there symmetry between the conditions of praise- and blameworthiness? After all (as Nelkin argues) there isn't any parallel principle to OIC that will generate the claim that one is not praiseworthy if one lacks the ability to do otherwise.
I don't want to just pick on the freedom to do otherwise folks though. So, for sourcehood folks, is it just as clear that in a manipulation scenario that Plum the murderer is not blameworthy as it is that Plum the loving and caring father is not praiseworthy? By my lights, those who have advanced manipulation and original design arguments have chosen wisely to emphasize cases of bad action, since it's significantly less clear that not being the source of one's actions is plausibly an excusing condition for praiseworthiness. So sourcehood folks, do you think there's an asymmetry here? And if not, why not, since the most powerful argument for sourcehood theories seems a lot less powerful when the manipulated agent is "set up" to do the right thing for the right reasons?
And finally, since it might seem as if I'm going after incompatibilists too much here, for those who take guidance control to be necessary for moral responsibility, why is it that more than weak reasons-receptivity is required for praiseworthiness? That's a pretty abstract question, so let me fill in the issue I'm trying to get at: in the cases that Fischer and Ravizza use to motivate their change in Fischer's earlier view, they consider an agent who meets the wrr requirement but still seems excused from blameworthiness because the mechanism's sensitivity to reasons was too unprincipled. But as I argued in my earlier post, it seems that relatively young children--individuals who surely aren't sensitive to reasons in a principled way--can be sensitive to and be moved to action by the very reason that makes their action right. So why wouldn't those agents be praiseworthy? And if they are, doesn't this suggest that there is a further possible asymmetry between the conditions of praise- and blameworthiness? That is, that whereas blameworthiness requires more than weak reasons-receptivity (for the very reasons that Fischer and Ravizza suggest), weak reasons-receptivity is sufficient for praiseworthiness.
I guess what I'm saying, then, is that all of us, no matter whether we agree with Wolf and Nelkin about the ability to do otherwise being necessary for blameworthiness, should probably think that there are important differences in the conditions under which agents are praise- and blameworthy for their actions. Alternatively: vive la difference!