Putting psychology before metaphysics in moral responsibility: Reactive attitudes and a “gut feeling” that can trigger and justify them

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In “Freedom and Resentment,” P.F. Strawson argues that since the reactive attitudes are psychologically unavoidable, they do not stand in need of justification from philosophical theorizing about the metaphysical conditions necessary for free action. After reviewing and criticizing this line of argument, we develop an alternative account of how the reactive attitudes can be justified through a feature of our psychology. This new account focuses upon a collection of cognitive mechanisms identified by cognitive neuroscience, which recognize human beings (and other minded beings) and which also give rise to a gut feeling that certain entities are possible targets for the reactive attitudes. By focusing on the justificatory power of this gut feeling, we arrive at an account of moral responsibility that places psychology before metaphysics in a manner broadly similar to Strawson’s original account, but in a way that avoids some of the shortcomings of that account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-387
Number of pages31
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019

Keywords

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • compatibilism
  • moral responsibility
  • reactive attitudes

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