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Rick Repetti

For David Pizzaro:

Two questions.

1. I asked a similar question of Walter Sinnitt-Armstrong, but a version of it applies also to your research. I am not at all detracting from the fact that your fascinating research seems to strongly support the empirical prediction of Peter Strawson, in his famous essay on "Freedom and Resentment", to the effect that the publicized truth of determinism would not disrupt conventional normative institutions and practices that are presumably logically undermined by the truth of that thesis. Nonetheless, what remains puzzling to me is whether you think this has any important metaethical conclusions for philosophers interested in whether determinism actually does logically undermine not our normative institutions and practices, per se, but the validity or truth of the normative claims that such institutions and practices may or may not rest on. It is one thing to show that an actual normative behavior or practice is not actually psychologically, causally or rationally dependent on the validity or truth of a claim, but it is another thing to show that a morally valid behavior or practice is not rationally dependent on a morally valid claim. In other words, if it could be shown, for example, that the majority of humans were manipulated through fear of consequences and expectation of rewards to engage in what they then (rationalizing to themselves) thought were practices supported by deontological reasons, would that undermine the validity of the claim that, say, for behaviors or practices to be morally valid they must be supported by deontogological (or utilitarian, etc.) reasons? In this case, your research shows that many normative behaviors appear to be rationalized post facto. Sad, but apparently true. The somewhat open question remains: Ought they to be?

2. Your research seems to show that folks treat the need to blame as primary and that they invent rationalizations for the blame, once attributed, along lines of attributions of some sort of autonomy. What do you make of the claim that this research inadvertently shows that we actually do presuppose that moral responsibility requires the ability of an agent to control his/her actions, so much so that when we interpret a case as warranting blame, we then intuitively "fill in" the attirbutions of autonomy?

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