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Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments

Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments

R. Jay Wallace

ISBN 9780674766235

Publication date: 01/08/1998

R. Jay Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility.


  • This is an excellent book. It is innovative in scope and carefully argued throughout. [It] recasts the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists as a normative debate about the conditions under which it is fair to hold a person morally responsible...Wallace's book is an intriguing and demanding piece that merits the attention of anyone working on these topics.

    —Michael McKenna, Philosophical Review


  • R. Jay Wallace is Professor of Philosophy at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • 0-5/8 x 5-5/8 x 8-15/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press