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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Free Will Skepticism and Criminal Behavior: A Public Health-Quarantine Model

Gregg D. Caruso
[Draft 6/11/2015]
[Cite final version: Southwest Philosophy Review 2016, 32 (1)]

One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of free will skepticism is that it is unable to
adequately deal with criminal behavior and that the responses it would permit as justified are
insufficient for acceptable social policy. This concern is fueled by two factors. The first is that
one of the most prominent justifications for punishing criminals, retributivism, is incompatible
with free will skepticism. The second concern is that alternative justifications that are not ruled
out by the skeptical view per se face significant independent moral objections (Pereboom 2014,
153). Yet despite these concerns, I maintain that free will skepticism leaves intact other ways to
respond to criminal behavior—in particular preventive detention, rehabilitation, and alteration of
relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justifiable and sufficient for
good social policy. The position I defend is similar to Derk Pereboom’s (2001, 2013, 2014),
taking as its starting point his quarantine analogy, but it sets out to develop the quarantine model
within a broader justificatory framework drawn from public health ethics. The resulting model—
which I call the public health-quarantine model—provides a framework for justifying quarantine
and criminal sanctions that is more humane than retributivism and preferable to other nonretributive
alternatives. It also provides a broader approach to criminal behavior than Pereboom’s
quarantine analogy does on its own.

The entire paper is here.

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