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Pervasiveness of self : a critique of P.F. Strawson’s reactive theory of responsibility Scotland, Andrea Jacqueline

Abstract

In this thesis, I argue that P.F. Strawson seriously underestimates the controversial nature of the beliefs and attitudes of which the retributive reactive attitudes (RAs) often involve. Although he acknowledges that the RAs involve a "seamy side," he fails to admit they frequently commit the reactive person to psychological, if not metaphysical, beliefs that violate principles of impartiality and rationality. As we shall, this is important in the dialectical context of "Freedom and Resentment", because Strawson's goal of reconciling the compatibilists and incompatibilists about moral responsibility requires the RAs to be free of such controversial presuppositions. I argue that because more modest versions of "seamy" retributive RAs are grounded in false and egoistic beliefs, the incompatibilist will remain skeptical that the gap in consequentialist compatibilism can be filled by the won-metaphysical fact of our "natural proneness" to take up the reactive stance

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