The Nature of Reactive Practices: Exploring Strawson’s Expressivism

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I aim to answer the questions of whether reactive practices such as gratitude and punishment are inherently expressive, and, if so, in what respect. I distinguish seven ways in which one might plausibly characterize reactive practices as essentially expressive in nature, and organise them so that they progress in a dialectical order, from weakest to strongest. I then critically discuss objections that apply to the strongest conception, questioning whether it coheres with standard retributive understandings of why, when and where the reactive practice of punishment is justified.
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