Agency and Resentment: Reinterpreting Strawson's Compatibilism


In his influential work, “Freedom and Resentment,” P.F. Strawson argues that the truth of determinism would be irrelevant to our moral responsibility practices, since our commitment to these practices is somehow connected to both our reactive attitudes—e.g. resentment, gratitude, and love—and participation in interpersonal relationships. However, some of the moves made by Strawson in his work remain unclear. In this paper, I address three prominent attempts to explain these moves, and contend that none of them captures his view because they all focus too narrowly on notions of moral demands and feelings of resentment. I argue that the correct understanding of Strawson’s compatibilism needs to take seriously his close connection between the proneness to feel all of the reactive attitudes and our seeing ourselves as agents (as opposed to mere objects). In light of this argument, I conclude by offering a more plausible reading of Strawson’s compatibilism.



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Bobby Bingle
Georgia State University

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References found in this work

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life.Derk Pereboom - 2014 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Conversation and Responsibility.Michael McKenna - 2011 - , US: Oxford University Press USA.

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