This is an explication and defense of P. F. Strawson’s naturalist theory of free will and moral responsibility. I respond to a set of criticisms of the view by free will skeptics, compatibilists, and libertarians who adopt the core assumption: Strawson thinks that our reactive attitudes provide the basis for a rational justification of our blaming and praising practices. My primary aim is to explain and defend Strawson’s naturalism in light of criticisms based on the core assumption. Strawson’s critiques of incompatibilism and free will skepticism are not intended to provide rational justifications for either compatibilism or the claim that some persons have free will. Hence, the charge that Strawson’s “arguments” are faulty is misplaced. The core assumption resting behind such critiques is mistaken.
BennettJ. (2008). “Accountability (II).” In M. McKenna and P. Russell (eds.) Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P.F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment”47–68. Burlington, VT
: Ashgate Publishing Company.
ScanlonT. M. (1988). “The Significance of Choice.” In McMurrinS. M. (ed.) The Tanner Lectures on Human Values151–177. Salt Lake City, UT
: University of Utah Press. Reprinted in Watson (2003) 352–371; page numbers are to this latter edition.
WatsonG. (1987). “Responsibility and the Limits of Evil: Variations on a Strawsonian Theme.” In SchoemanF. (ed.) Responsibility Character and the Emotions256–286. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reprinted in Fischer and Ravizza (1993a) 119–148; page numbers are to this latter edition.
At least one critic (Sosa1998: 366–367) interprets Strawson as providing a similar justification for our belief in the external world. See below and Strawson (1998e) for a reply to this interpretation.