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06/28/2013

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I've enjoyed your posts very much, Neil.
Although I am no Neilist, I suppose I'm a Semi-Neilist, since I *do* share with you the lack of an intuition that Ernie is not morally responsible in the Zygote "Argument" scenario.

What is the "whole paper" you have written as a response to one of the threads? Sounds interesting!
Thanks for your innovative ideas.

Thanks John. In the interests of blind review, I won't say anything about the paper I wrote. It is sufficiently different from anything I wrote here that a reviewer might well not be able to identify me, even were they to have read my posts. Hopefully they will think the paper is far too coherent to be mine. If it is accepted, I will provide an update!

How I wish you'd had time for the neuroscience! But thanks Neil for a great month of posts and comments.

Neil, have thoroughly enjoyed your posts; and am eager to read your new book as well as the “stealth” paper. Between travel and looming deadlines have not had as much opportunity to comment on the important issues you raise as I would have liked, but this last post is particularly interesting. You make a very important point concerning constitutive luck, and the tendency to take it less seriously: the idea that once we reach constitutive properties (especially constitutive powers of reason), then we can hold people morally responsible and not look further, and not worry about differences in those constitutive capacities -- everyone is on the plateau of moral responsibility, and the differences don’t matter. (George Sher, it seems to me, takes that view in WHO KNEW?) You suggest that this view is tied to a political perspective: we don’t have to concern ourselves with differences in starting points -- differences in early education, health care, nurturing, and so on; don’t look at any of that, everyone has equal opportunity NOW, and so everyone justly deserves their punishment or reward. I’m not suggesting, of course, that people who hold the plateau/ahistorical view of MR actually take that political stance; but there are connections there that should not be overlooked, as you insightfully note. My sense is that philosophers are now well aware of the importance of psychological and neuropsychological studies; and in some cases -- as with you and Eddy, whose posts I eagerly anticipate -- that awareness is particularly strong and beneficial. But we have paid less attention to the work of sociologists and criminologists; and greater attention to that body of research would make the ahistorical position even more difficult to maintain. This is too brief a comment on a fascinating and provocative post; and though I certainly do not wish to infringe on attention to Eddy’s posts, I should very much like to know what others on Flickers think about your ideas in this post. And thanks again for a marvelous month of posts.

I absolutely agree, Bruce, that we ought to attend to sociology as well as every other source of data. One of my pet peeves about applied ethics is that empirical claims are made all the time - about what would happen were 'society' to permit this or that - without any attention to sociological (and historical and anthropological) data.

Thanks Neil for an outstanding month of blogging!! I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I didn’t contribute more because of travels and vacations. But another reason that I didn’t chime in was that I found myself heartily agreeing with you time and again, and found that I couldn’t put it any better myself.

Well that’s not exactly right. The penultimate post on constitutive and present luck is deeply flawed ;-) I am still working out an ‘error’ argument for constitutive luck (you hinted in a previous post at the form this type of argument might take). Maybe it will be ready when you visit Ann Arbor in the spring. Thanks again!

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