Strawson, responsibility, and emotions

26 February, 2022

Loginov E.
RSUH/RGGUBulletin. "Philosophy. Sociology. Art Studies" Series, no. 3, pp. 38-46.

This article presents an analysis of P.F. Strawson’s approach to the phenomenon of moral responsibility. First, the crux of Strawson’s approach is introduced. It is then followed by a critique of it. The crux of Strawson’s approach according to my interpretation is (1) to ground being responsible in holding responsible and (2) to ground holding responsible in emotional reactions. I show that although the thesis (1) contradicts the ordinary point of view, it can be defended. I criticize the second thesis and show that there is both holding responsible without emotion and the experience of emotion without holding responsible. Holding responsible without emotion can be accomplished by a non-emotional rational agent as well as by a rational agent who is not well versed in his/her feelings. It is possible to experience emotion without holding anyone responsible if one does not use one’s emotion as a way of blaming or praising. If we can separate emotional responses from holding responsible, then there is no grounding relation between the two. Consequently, we are in a position to reconsider Strawson’s view of moral responsibility.