Love, Freedom, and Resentment

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Lundquist, Samuel, Philosophy - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Brewer, Talbot, AS-Philosophy (PHIL), University of Virginia

In recent decades, P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment” (1962) has had an enormous influence on philosophical views of moral responsibility. Many contemporary views follow Strawson in centering questions of responsibility on the appropriateness of certain attitudes in our interpersonal relations, especially attitudes of blame and anger, rather than on the abstract nature of free will. Strawson’s influence has in many ways been beneficial, but the prevailing Strawsonian views have taken on some of the more dubious tendencies of contemporary moral philosophy. Among them is the tendency to think of our ethical relations narrowly in terms of the sort of the respect that we owe friends and strangers alike, while neglecting attitudes of concern and understanding. This tendency distorts our views of our ethical relations and how we should respond to one another’s wrongful conduct. To correct those distortions, I retrieve insights from older traditions of ethical thought—especially Platonic, Stoic, and Christian traditions—which give love and understanding a central place in our ethical relations, along with respect. These traditions, which have profoundly shaped the development of Western ethical thought, are unduly neglected in contemporary moral philosophy. By joining the insights of these traditions with the insights of Strawsonian views of responsibility, I believe we can articulate a more complete and compelling view of ethical life and responsibility.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Ethics, Moral Responsibility, Free Will, Virtue Ethics, P. F. Strawson
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