P. F. Strawson’s Consequentialism

Victoria McGeer

in Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Volume 2

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780198722120
Published online March 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191789212 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies In Agency And Responsibility

P. F. Strawson’s Consequentialism

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  • Moral Philosophy
  • Metaphysics


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This chapter revisits the arguments of “Freedom and Resentment” in order to challenge the dominant non-consequentialist reading of Strawson’s account of responsibility. On the interpretation offered here, there are three mutually reinforcing prongs to Strawson’s argument: his naturalism (i.e. his resistance to a metaphysical picture of human freedom); his pragmatism (i.e. his emphasis on everyday attitudes and practices of “holding responsible”); and his consequentialism (i.e. his normative concern with what ultimately justifies our adherence to these attitudes and practices). The first two prongs of Strawson’s view have been widely recognized and discussed; the third has been overlooked. This chapter's aim is to show why the consequentialist elements in Strawson’s view not only strengthen his overall position against persistent critical challenges; they also point us towards an under-appreciated and independently attractive account of responsibility.

Keywords: P. F. Strawson; consequentialism; reactive attitudes; responsibility; blame; determinism; naturalism; pragmatism; compatibilism; incompatibilism

Chapter.  13219 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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