In The Stone column on the New York Times Site, there is an article about the issue of moral responsibility, in light of the notion that we are what we are because of such factors as genetics, environment, or perhaps determinism and/or chance. In the end the author stoically concludes, that despite it all in some sense we can choose to take responsibility for our actions. While I respect the author's sense of duty, can we fairly extend that same responsibility to other people? For example, could there still be any defense of punishment that isn't consequentalist. For that matter how can any nonconsequentialist ethical theory hold up against this argument?
Given the premises, I can't think of anything but a consequentialist defense of punishment or "correction." I also believe that that some of the arguments around this issue provide an opportunity for reflection on our powerful attachment to the rhetoric of "taking responsibility."We do not hear enough about our responsibility as a nation to create communities that nurture a sense of morality and connection with others. Many only want to talk about personal responsibility and it is often with a punitive edge. There might be other terms in which to couch the issue of moral striving.