Comparison Of Roderick Chisholm And Susan Wolf

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Roderick Chisholm and Susan Wolf are two philosophers that deal with the subject matter of free will. Their stances on freedom and moral responsibility are relatively different. In the words of Chisholm he says, “…if a man is responsible for a certain event or a certain state of affairs, then that event or state of affairs was brought about by some act of his, and the act was something in his power either to perform or not to perform.” (Chisholm 598) This means that people are held morally responsible for an act if they “could have done otherwise” only if they had the freedom to act. However, Susan Wolf believes that, if we do the right thing for the right reasons, then we are free; in the sense that it is required by moral responsibility even …show more content…

Chisholm rejects both determinism and indeterminism because it does not follow the view that human beings are responsible agents. Chisholm's challenge is that he says how an act has no cause at all then there is no reason to hold someone morally responsibly for it. Then, if an act was caused by a past event then that agent should not be held responsible for it. However, it is possible for something to be caused but not caused by a past event. In order to be morally responsible, Chisholm believes that we assume that the agent is in control; the agent chooses the outcome. Also, he believes that a free agent “could have chosen otherwise.” A quote from the reading that accurately expresses Chisholm’s beliefs and views are, “We must not say that every event involved in the act is caused by some other event; and we must not say that it is not caused at all…We should say that at least one of the events that are involved in the act is caused, not by any other events, but by something else instead. And this something else can only be the agent - the man.”(Chisholm 600) Chisholm objects indeterminism because, indeterminism is an event that happens randomly; it is not caused by something. Therefore this does not relate with moral …show more content…

Wolf explains how an agent that performs the right actions is determined the right way because the actions are determined for the right interests and reasons. A person who is undetermined cannot be a moral agent because their actions cannot be determined by moral interests and moral reasons. This leads to two conditions for moral responsibility; which is the condition of freedom, that means the actions are under your control “could have done otherwise.” Then the second condition is the condition of value which is when moral claims are applied. If the first condition is satisfied then the second condition is not in effect which makes moral responsibility incoherent because a free agent cannot be moral and a moral agent cannot be free. When we look at people who do bad actions like steal a persons wallet or do drugs then we say that “they could have done otherwise,” thus this means they will be punished. But when a person does deserve praise then we don't say that “they could have done otherwise.” If a person does a generous act like return a wallet that they found without hesitation or question because they are acting from the right moral reason from recognition, then this does not disinclined them from being praised; they will be praised. The character of this agent might be determined, thus meaning that her generous character isn't under her control. Generosity

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