If [hard] determinism is true and that therefore we lack the freedom required for moral responsibility as Pereboom (pp. 21-22) says, then how should we look at criminal occurrences across the world? Do criminals become victims (of determinism), too? Hard determinism states that every event in the universe, as well as every action done by a person, is a result of a previously organized series of actions. This only means that each achievement is an illusion. No one can claim recognition for an invention or good governance. Everything that happens in the universe has been previously scheduled to happen.
Just as no one can claim glory for good works done, then no blame should ever be cast on anyone who has committed a grave crime. After all, if everything has been pre-scheduled, then any voluntary action should be deemed useless. Further, Pereboom says that we are not free to practice moral responsibility. Hence, we are incapable of having dignity; because a dignified person is supposed to be able to contrast good from bad, in which case, he will be free to scrutinize right from wrong and effectively uphold his moral responsibility.
Therefore, Pereboom is saying that neither you nor I nor he himself can ever be respectable, as everything happens as they should and we are reduced to mere witnesses, instead of decision-makers. On the other hand, if we are to study soft determinism, we will see that there may be some room for free will or personal choice. Soft determinism states that some random things can happen amid a predetermined condition. Soft determinism appears to be an accident, a random swerving in an otherwise straight path. In this case, our own choice becomes the random swerving.
Yet we do not know just how much room is there for our own in choice in a universe governed by soft determinism. Now, suppose that materialism is true, such that everything that happens in the universe as we know it is caused only by natural causes, then we are still left with very little or no control in life at all. In another theory, libertarianism states that individuals are free to do anything they want as long as they are not causing harm to anyone. This seems to be plausible for most of people. But then now we are drawn to ask: how far is the role of free will in our mind?
And how much of what we think we want will not be harmful to anyone? Finally, knowing that we are all made up of particles operating on physical laws, can we take credit for anything in life? Going back to the criminal occurrences in the world, I dont think punishment is ever justified for any of these crimes. We are operating on different beliefs and we do not know exactly just how responsible we are for our own actions. I think only corrections and rehabilitation should be implemented on criminals, if only to uphold our dignity as humans in a more libertarian and less deterministic universe.