Is it "possible" to accept a retributive theory of punishment, while simultaneously accepting a deterministic view of human behavior? Is belief in freewill a necessary condition for a belief that retributive punishments are ethical/correct? Under what set of assumptions are these ideas compatible?

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    You may be interested in [plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/]
    – nwr
    Jul 14, 2015 at 23:59
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    I think there's a lot of different things that are tangled together here, but I think the basic answer is that it is possible to (a) accept determinism (on some definition of determinism) and (b) believe retributive punishment is ethically appropriate (on some definition of ethics).
    – virmaior
    Jul 15, 2015 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


No. See Harry Frankfurt's work on moral responsibility and free will.


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    Could you summarize his main arguments here, please? Links are susceptible to linkrot, and so on a few years this answer may boil down to nothing more than "no", with no supporting evidence.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 15, 2015 at 10:46

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