A Moral Dialog - Reactive Attitudes According to Gary Watson, Peter Strawson

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Abstract
What do our reactive attitudes towards perceived moral infractions truly represent? According to Gary Watson, Peter Strawson argues that agents can become exempted from negative or positive reactive attitudes under type 2 pleas. These are conditions wherein we might not consider the agent to qualify for moral judgement based on certain biological, cognitive or psychological traits that they might exhibit. Gary Watson feels that this account is not conclusive, that it does not fully represent the inhibition of a moral demand that we might place on an agent. He feels that a better account considers whether or not the agent is a proper object for the moral demands that we might place on him. In this paper I question whether or not Watson's reading of Strawson based on his paper entitled "Freedom and Resentment" is a full account of his argument. I respond by arguing that a critical feature of Strawson's paper that is missing is that of a concern we might have of our own wellbeing whenever we consider another's actions. I argue that more than any perceived rightness or wrongness of another's actions, we worry about the what effects their actions will have in our lives. I believe that this is a sentiment that is missing in Watson's response to Strawson.
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Archival date: 2015-12-27
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