Responsibility, Reactive Attitudes, and Liberalism in Philosophy and Politics *

Samuel Scheffler

in Boundaries and Allegiances

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780199257676
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600197 | DOI:
 Responsibility, Reactive Attitudes, and Liberalism in Philosophy and Politics *

Show Summary Details


During the 1980s, political liberalism in America came under heavy attack from conservatives, who claimed that liberal policies and programmes rested on a reduced conception of individual responsibility. Noting this trend, Scheffler examines the four major strands of American political philosophy since the 1970s and finds that the most prominent liberal theorists of this period—and, indeed, their most prominent critics—avoid any appeal to a pre‐institutional conception of desert. Scheffler proposes that the influence of naturalism may help to explain this surprising degree of convergence. He goes on to argue that philosophical liberalism, like political liberalism, appears to be in tension with ordinary notions of desert and responsibility. He examines the implications of this tension for liberal politics, for liberal philosophy's professed neutrality among conceptions of the good, and for the moral psychology of liberalism.

Keywords: desert; goodness; liberalism; moral psychology; naturalism; political philosophy; responsibility; USA

Chapter.  10278 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.