Original Articles

Dissolving Reactive Attitudes: Forgiving and Understanding

Published in: South African Journal of Philosophy
Volume 27, issue 3, 2008 , pages: 179–201
DOI: 10.4314/sajpem.v27i3.31511
Author(s): Lucy AllaisDepartment of Philosophy University of the Witwatersrand Wits, South Africa


In ‘Freedom and Resentment,' Strawson argues that we cannot separate holding people morally responsible for their actions from specific emotional responses, which he calls reactive attitudes, which we are disposed towards in response to people’s actions. Strawson’s view might pose problems for forgiveness, in which we choose to overcome reactive attitudes like resentment without altering the judgments that make them appropriate. I present a detailed analysis of reactive attitudes, which I use both to defend Strawson’s account of the connection between these states and responsibility, and to show how we can fit forgiveness into this account.

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