Four Degrees of Separation:
- The Separation of “Free” from “Will”
- The Separation of “Responsibility” from “Moral Responsibility”
- The Separation of “Free Will” from “Moral Responsibility”
- The Separation of “Free Will and Moral Responsibility” from “Punishment” – both Retributive and Consequentialist
We must separate the concept “free” from the concept of “will” in order to better understand “free will,” as John Locke recommended we do to avoid verbal confusion. He said, “I think the question is not proper, whether the will be free, but whether a man be free.”
(Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book II, Chapter XXI, Of Power, s.21)
We must also separate “moral responsibility” from ordinary “responsibility” or simple accountability. If our intentions and decisions caused an action, we are responsible for it, but moral responsibility requires that the action has moral consequences. Immanuel Kant and the modern free willist Robert Kane think that only moral decisions can be free decisions.
Finally, we should explore the connection between moral responsibility and punishment , both backward-looking retributive punishment (revenge or restitution) and forward-looking consequentialism (re-education and rehabilitation).