Public Affairs Quarterly 34 (4):321-339 (2020)

Larisa Svirsky
Ohio State University
Following Strawson, many philosophers have claimed that holding someone responsible necessitates its being appropriate to feel or express the negative reactive attitudes (e.g., resentment) toward her. This view, while compelling, is unable to capture the full range of cases in which we hold others responsible in ordinary life. Consider the parent who holds her five-year-old responsible for not teasing his sister, or the therapist who holds her patient responsible for avoiding self-injurious behavior. Holding responsible in such cases requires enforcing normative expectations, but these norms can (and typically should) be enforced without involving the negative reactive attitudes. To demonstrate this, I consider how responsibility attributions function in psychotherapy, as well as in other contexts where the negative reactive attitudes do not have a natural home.
Keywords responsibility  reactive attitudes  marginal agency  psychotherapy  parenting
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