This question already has an answer here:

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?

marked as duplicate by James Kingsbery, virmaior Jul 16 '15 at 0:54

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    You may be interested in [plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/] – Nick Jul 14 '15 at 23:59
  • 1
    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 '15 at 0:36

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


  • 4
    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 '15 at 10:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.