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Res Philosophica

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published on February 14, 2019

Daniel Coren
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.1728

Freedom, Gratitude, and Resentment
Olivi and Strawson

I argue that by attending to a distinction among perspectives on the root causes of our reactive attitudes, we can better understand the bases and limitations of longstanding debates about free will and moral responsibility. I characterize this distinction as “objectivism vs. subjectivism.” I bring out this distinction by first scrutinizing an especially sharp divergence between Peter Strawson and Peter John Olivi. For Olivi, our ordinary human attitudes make it obvious that we have free will, and our attitudes would be senseless if we did not firmly believe that we have free will. For Strawson, reactive attitudes would carry on despite a theoretical acceptance that we lack free will. I apply my distinction to more recent disagreements, such as between Peter van Inwagen and John Martin Fischer/Mark Ravizza. By getting clearer on why we disagree, we can move closer toward a resolution and we can avoid talking past each other.