Responsibility and the aims of theory: Strawson and revisionism

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85 (2):218-241 (2004)


In recent years, reflection on the relationship between individual moral responsibility and determinism has undergone a remarkable renaissance. Incompatibilists, those who believe moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism, have offered powerful new arguments in support of their views. Compatibilists, those who think moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, have responded with ingenious counterexamples and alternative accounts of responsibility. Despite the admirable elevation of complexity and subtlety within both camps, the trajectory of the literature is somewhat discouraging. Every dialectical stalemate between incompatibilists and compatibilists seems to be superseded by a similar though often more subtle stalemate.1 The stalemates have two sources. On the one hand, incompatibilists again and again find powerful intuitive support from our folk concept. On the other hand, compatibilists seem right to insist that even if determinism were true, this would not mitigate our need for a concept of responsibility

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Manuel Vargas
University of California, San Diego

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Citations of this work

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