Compatibilist Views of Freedom and Responsibility

Ishtiyaque Haji

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780195178548
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Compatibilist Views of Freedom and Responsibility


This article examines two broadly different kinds of compatibilist theories. Advocates of the first kind responsibility is constituted by the “reactive attitudes” such as indignation, forgiveness, resentment, guilt, gratitude, and love that we display toward one another in response to behavior and traits of character. As there are no independent grounds external to the range of these attitudes that are relevant to responsibility ascriptions, the thought is that such an account of responsibility is immune to threats of determinism. Proponents of the second kind of compatibilist theory develop the view that a person is responsible for his behavior if there is an appropriate “fit” between that behavior and various psychological elements of his or various features of the world. As this fit can be obtained even if the world is determined, determinism, it has been claimed, is no threat to responsibility. The accounts of P. F. Strawson, R. Jay Wallace, Gerald Dworkin, Harry Frankfurt, Gary Watson, Susan Wolf, and Hilary Bok are considered.

Keywords: compatibilism; determinism; responsibility; P. F. Strawson; R. Jay Wallace; Gerald Dworkin; Harry Frankfurt; Gary Watson; Susan Wolf; Hilary Bok

Article.  13122 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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