Where Love and Resentment Meet: Strawson's Intrapersonal Defense of Compatibilism

Philosophical Review 121 (1):95-124 (2012)
In his seminal essay “Freedom and Resentment,” Strawson drew attention to the role of such emotions as resentment, moral indignation, and guilt in our moral and personal lives. According to Strawson, these reactive attitudes are at once constitutive of moral blame and inseparable from ordinary interpersonal relationships. On this basis, he concluded that relinquishing moral blame isn’t a real possibility for us, given our commitment to personal relationships. If well founded, this conclusion puts the traditional free-will debate in a new light. In particular, in so far as incompatibilists believe that we can or should forgo moral blame if determinism is true, their stance may seem out of touch with our emotional reality. Here I examine Strawson’s claim that the reactive attitudes are inseparable from ordinary interpersonal relationships. Strawson says surprisingly little to support this intriguing claim, and thus far no argument for it has emerged in the literature. My aim is to remedy this. Specifically, I set out an argument for a suitably formulated version of the inseparability claim, an argument that appeals to the relationship between the reactive attitudes and other elements of our emotional lives. I then show how this argument helps to answer an important recent challenge to Strawson’s position. If I am right, there is good reason to doubt that the reforms envisaged by some incompatibilists, reforms to our blame-related practices, are a real possibility for us.
Keywords moral responsibility  reactive attitudes
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-1426373
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Glen Pettigrove & Koji Tanaka (2013). Anger and Moral Judgment. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (2):1-18.
Per-Erik Milam (2016). Reactive Attitudes and Personal Relationships. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (1):102-122.

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Peter F. Strawson (1962). Freedom and Resentment. Proceedings of the British Academy 48:1-25.

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