There is another way to understand Strawson

There is another - towards them Independently of this we might wonder how successful Strawson’s approach is on its own terms And the big worry

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There is another way to understand Strawson. This is to understand him as saying that the claim that a certain person is free is not really a descriptive theoretical claim at all. Rather it is simply something we say when we are prepared to take the reactive stance towards them. (Compare emotivism in ethics: emotivists say that the statement that a given thing is good isn’t really a descriptive statement at all. It’s just something that we say that expresses our attitude to it; it’s like saying ‘Hurrah’.) Understood this way, Strawson comes out as a kind of sophisticated freedom compatibilist: the claim that determinism is true is quite compatible with the claim that people have free will, since the latter is just a way of indicating that we are prepared to take the reactive stance towards them. It is not a descriptive statement at all. (But again, what now becomes of the phenomenology of freedom?) Yet another approach likens Strawson to a subjectivist: to claim that someone is free is to claim that one will be taking the subjective stance
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Unformatted text preview: towards them. Independently of this, we might wonder how successful Strawson’s approach is on its own terms. And the big worry here is whether or not we can isolate the theoretical from the practical in the way he suggests. One aspect of this is the following: don’t we think that there is a real question of whether we are right in thinking that we are justified in holding someone responsible? We don’t just want to say: ‘This is what we do’; we want to say ‘This is what we are justified in doing’. One way of thinking about this is to compare it with other practices. Thus suppose someone made a parallel defense of religion. Suppose it could be shown that there was a natural human tendency to believe in a god, and that human beings flourished when they did. Would that justify belief in god? Wouldn’t we want to say: whether or not it is unavoidable, or it benefits us, we want to know whether the belief is justified. We want to know whether there is a god....
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course PSY PSY2012 taught by Professor Scheff during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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