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Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 2 HT13

Event Name Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 2 HT13
Start Date 21st Jan 2013 4:30pm
End Date 21st Jan 2013 6:30pm
Duration 2 hours

Speaker: Martin O'Neill (York)

Title: Freedom without Resentment: Strawson, the Whisky Priest and the Objective Attitudes

Venue: Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities, Woodstock Road, OX2 6GG

Abstract: P. F. Strawson's highly influential paper "Freedom and Resentment" presents what is perhaps the most important philosophical challenge to any revisionary view about responsibility. Rebutting Strawson's challenge can therefore be seen as a precondition for clearing space for revisionary views. In this paper, I argue that Strawson's view turns on an overdrawn distinction between the reactive attitudes and (what he calls) "the objective attitude". If we instead distinguish between (what I call) Stark and Moderate versions of the objective attitude, and between Broad and Narrow understandings of the reactive attitudes, we are left with an understanding of the conceptual territory wherein Strawson's challenge loses much of its power. Moreover, Strawson's arguments for either the impossibility or undesirability of rejecting the reactive attitudes can be shown to lose their grip in the face of a more nuanced understanding of the contours and limits of the moderate objective attitude. In buttressing my objections to Strawson, I make use of the (hopefully illuminating) example of the Whisky Priest from Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. My conclusion is a conditional one: that, if we have independent reason to adopt a moderate version of the objective attitude, Strawson gives us no compelling reason not to do so.

Webpage: Seminars in Moral Philosophy

Convenors: Dr Edward Harcourt and Dr Guy Kahane

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