Moral Sense and the Foundations of Responsibility

Paul Russell

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Second edition

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399691
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Moral Sense and the Foundations of Responsibility


This article discusses another important class of new compatibilist theories of agency and responsibility, frequently referred to as reactive attitude theories. Such theories have their roots in another seminal essay of modern free-will debates, P. F. Strawson's “Freedom and Resentment” (1962). This article disentangles three strands of Strawson's argument—rationalist, naturalist, and pragmatic. It also considers other recent reactive attitude views that have attempted to remedy flaws in Strawson's view, focusing particularly on the view of R. Jay Wallace. Wallace supplies an account of moral capacity, which is missing in Strawson's view, in terms of an account of what Wallace calls “reflective self-control.” The article concludes with suggestions of how a reactive attitude approach to moral responsibility that builds on the work of Strawson, Wallace, and others might be successfully developed.

Keywords: compatibilist theories; reactive attitude theories; free will; P. F. Strawson; R. Jay Wallace; reflective self-control; moral responsibility

Article.  11106 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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