The doctrine of "moral responsibility skepticism" has become increasingly influential. The basic tenet is that no one deserves to be morally blamed or punished based solely on what she has done, while possessing control of it and believing it is wrong. The proponents contend that no one ever has the relevant kind of control, and thus it would be unfair to apply desert-based blame and punishment. Further, they claim that adopting this view leads to better human relationships and mental health, and less cruel and unjust prisons. 

I explain why I find this view highly implausible, but I also hold that it addresses some important facts about our system of criminal justice. I propose an alternative theory that, I argue, saves what is importantly right about the approach, but also adds in a crucial missing element. I call it "semi-retributivism."

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  • brian sanchez
  • Kelly Apen

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