Just deserts
Dennett (Daniel) & Caruso (Gregg D.)
Source: Aeon, 04 October, 2018
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsBooks / Papers Citing this PaperNotes Citing this Paper


  1. This paper deserves close attention – more than I can give it at the moment!
  2. Both Caruso and Dennett have written extensively on the topic of Free Will1 but differ as to whether we have any, and consequently whether anyone is “truly” deserving of praise or blame.
  3. Caruso argues – contra Dennett – that none of us has free will because all we do is down to luck: either constitutive luck – from our genes and initial family situation – or present luck – from our environment.
  4. Consequently, Caruso claims that – rather than blame – criminals need therapy.
  5. While there is no doubt some truth in this latter claim, not all wrong-doers had bad starts in life, and I suspect that many who did would prefer to take the punishment if the alternative is the real loss of freedom in a rehabilitation programme. Compare the Soviet view that dissidents are insane and need curing.
  6. Much of the argument circles around whether or not Dennett believes that Retributive, as distinct from deterrent, containing or restorative, Punishment is ever justified, and whether punishment should ever be backward- rather than forward-looking.
  7. Dennett’s view is that it is essential to a cohesive society that defections from acceptable behaviour have costs attached. Caruso thinks – as noted above – that society’s needs can be met by a healthcare programme.
  8. To be continued …


Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Jan 2020. Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com. File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page