On an argument for the impossibility of moral responsibility

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):13-24 (2005)
Galen Strawson has published several versions of an argument to the effect that moral responsibility is impossible, whether determinism is true or not. Few philosophers have been persuaded by the argument, which Strawson remarks is often dismissed “as wrong, or irrelevant, or fatuous, or too rapid, or an expression of metaphysical megalomania.” I offer here a two-part explanation of why Strawson’s argument has impressed so few. First, as he usually states it, the argument is lacking at least one key premise. The premise in question concerns the very point on which Strawson and many of his contemporary opponents disagree. Strawson will persuade these opponents only when he convinces them of the truth of this crucial premise. Second, Strawson employs a striking conception of responsibility that has not generally been remarked upon. Many might accept that responsibility so conceived is impossible. But there is very different conception of responsibility that appears of great importance to us. To be thoroughly convincing, Strawson will have to show either that this second conception is inadequate or that his argument goes through even given this alternative conception.
Keywords Compatibilism  Ethics  Impossibility  Incompatibilism  Moral Responsibility  Strawson, Galen
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DOI 10.1111/j.1475-4975.2005.00103.x
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John Martin Fischer & Neal A. Tognazzini (2011). The Physiognomy of Responsibility. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2):381-417.
Markus E. Schlosser (2012). Review of "Free Will and Modern Science", R. Swinburne , 2011. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):463-466.

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