: 'Liberals' find the 'share the booty' side easier to sell, but try as they might they find that most people resist the 'share the guilt' side. Lets discuss!
Basically it all boils down to your metaphysical assumptions. Are you a materialist (and hence accept determinism) or are you a dualist that believes in free will? There are many variations upon the various metaphysical assumptions, but the crux o teh matter is whether you are a determinist or not.
You can't prove empirically the existence of free will but you can contrast it favorably or disfavorably with other working assumptions, Are all events caused? Are thoughts mental events? Are we influenced by our surroundings? Are our mental processes, the logical rules by which we think, are they shaped by the biochemistry and structure of our brain? Is it possible to create artifical inteligence?
I threw that last question in there because it sheds lights upon what basuc assumptions you're working from. If you believe artificial intelligence is possible, than you believe that we are nothing more than a collection of atoms floating in the void entirely determined by the laws of physics. Or if you answer in the negative you are affirming that you are a dualist, or perhapse an idealist; you believe that their is something extra to humans, a soul perhapse, that makes us free. A religious dogma is never far behind such views....
I think that humans are determined and that free will is a faulty concept. We have choice of course, but the reasons why we make choices are determined also. In spite of, or perhaps because of determinism responsibility is possible: If there were no reason for actions (read- uncaused) then there would be no reson for holding me resposnible for what I did i.e. no reason to assume I would do what I did again.
But we do hold people responsible, even if they were not the "ultimate" cause but merely a "secondary" or "accidental" cause. You talk about society being considered an ultimate cause and how difficult it is for us to accept a collective guilt for what we do, well I think physics is the ultimate root of all problems is phyics but it is equally difficult to make physics feel guilty....
Perhaps it is better just to refer to individuals as locus points, or intersections of forces that we can notsfully understand or differentiate. I do not claim to know the inner workings of another's mind, in fact I hold that it is equally difficult to understand the hidden workings of our own mind. Regardless, since it is impossible or impractical to blame the "ultimate cause' for a person's behaviour it is simply better to find some way to correct that behaviour i.e. rehabilitate criminals. Or if that is not possible, isolate them from the rest of society i.e. imprisonment.
My conclusion, we don't "deserve" anything that happens to us; we are thrown into this life with out any forewarning or permission on our part. Olympian doesn't deserve her medal and neither does the millionair deserve his millions. They were both carried their by impersonal forces that form a system of power relations that is the Olympics or the capitalist economy. The important thing is that once we understanmd this, once we have knowledge, then we can enact change. Choice is possible only when we are determined to understand it is a possibility