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Discussion – Strawson’s Argument

Discussion – Strawson’s Argument

According to Hartman (2018), Strawson’s basic argument is that there is no ultimate moral responsibility for people’s actions. He avers that people’s actions are influenced by external circumstances; hence, reward or punishment and praise or blame are unjust. Strawson’s thinking aligns with the philosophical concept of determinism, which attributes events to undetermined causes. Therefore, people should not be held morally accountable for events that exceed their knowledge or mental capability. Strawson further argues that human actions are influenced by their mental fabric and experiential factors. Here, hereditary factors and early prior experiences come into play, yet no one may control their genetic makeup or what they were exposed to during childhood.

The argument presented by Strawson on moral responsibility is not shocking but mind-provoking. Strawson’s assertions challenge common philosophical beliefs about moral responsibility by offering an alternative viewpoint. One of the thought-provoking viewpoints presented by Strawson is that the judgment of what is morally right or wrong is influenced by people’s social and emotional feelings (Hartman, 2018). To that end, most people question other people’s way of doing things by assuming that the latter have the knowledge and mental capability to do things differently. Such judgment is reactive and fails to consider the underlying issues that influence people’s decisions.

In his argument, Strawson rubbishes the notion that people’s actions are influenced by their free will. Instead, he argues that people’s actions result from emotional and social factors. As noted earlier, the argument presented by Strawson is thought-provoking and controversial since it challenges deeply held opinions on moral responsibility. However, it offers an insightful view to help people understand moral responsibility. I do not find the basic argument shocking; rather, I think it is intriguing and thought-provoking.


Hartman, R. J. (2018). Constitutive moral luck and Strawson’s argument for the impossibility of moral responsibility. Journal of the American Philosophical Association4(2), 165-183.


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Strawson’s Argument

Strawson’s Argument

What should we think of Strawson’s rather shocking argument? Or perhaps it is not so shocking?

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