Commitment and Justification in 'Freedom and Resentment

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In the present contribution I wish to look at Strawson’s claim in the classic paper 'Freedom and Resentment' that some commitments, in particular our commitment to reactive attitudes, do not need to be justified. I wish to examine closely the nature of the commitment and why it is that Strawson gives it this special status. I will conclude that it is because we do not need to justify being in certain types of relationships that we are already in. The extrapolation of this result to the moral reactive attitudes where we are not participants in a certain relationship is problematic, however, and I argue that even if it is the same conditions that regulate the participant reactive attitudes as regulate the moral reactive attitudes, it still would not follow that those conditions are as invulnerable to the need for justification in the latter case as in the former.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-681
Number of pages39
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Moral responsibility
  • compatibilism
  • reactive attitudes
  • PF Strawson
  • Paul Russell
  • naturalism


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