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P.F. Strawson, "Freedom and Resentment" Strawson sets up a debate between an "optimist" and a "pessimist". The optimist holds that: (i) "the facts as we know them do not show determinism to be false" (ii) "the facts as we know them supply an adequate basis for the concepts and practices which the pessimist feels to be imperilled by the possibility of determinism's truth." (73) What are these "concepts and practices"? Concepts: moral obligation, moral responsibility Practices: punishing and blaming, expressing moral condemnation & approval The optimist is saying: as far as we know, determinism may be true or it may be false. But, we do know that these concepts have genuine application and that these practices are justified. We know that the application of these concepts and practices has an "adequate basis". Hence, the truth or falsity of determinism can make no difference to the justified use of these concepts and practices. 1

This is opposed to the pessimist, who thinks that if determinism is true then these concepts and practices have no application and are not justified. The pessimist: The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions

People act freely (when someone acts, she could have done otherwise)

People are not determined to act as they do

Determinism is false So, if determinism is true, then the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have no application to anything.

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What makes the optimist so sure that these concepts and practices have an "adequate basis"? Strawson: "Some optimists about determinism point to the efficacy of the practices of punishment, and of moral condemnation and approval, in regulating behaviour in socially desirable ways. In the fact of their efficacy, they suggest, is an adequate basis for these practices..."(73) The optimist's idea is that the justification for the application of moral concepts and practices comes from the fact that they are effective in regulating behavior in socially desirable ways. The concepts of moral obligation and moral responsibility apply to people and their actions because their doing so is effective in bringing about peaceful, productive and socially desirable interpersonal interactions. Furthermore, the efficacy of these practices does not imply the falsity of determinism.

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The optimist: The application of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility regulates behavior in socially desirable ways.

The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions

Determinism is false.

The pessimist: Justified application of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility requires freedom, and freedom implies the falsity of determinism.

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The optimist: It depends on what you mean by "freedom". What moral obligation and responsibility require is that people often act in the absence of compulsion, insanity, various psychological disorders, morally extreme circumstances ("circumstances in which the making of any other choice would be morally inadmissible or would be too much to expect of any man"), and some forms of ignorance, mistake, or accident. (73) = freedom defined negatively (acting freely = acting in the absence of .......) The application of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility regulates behavior in socially desirable ways.

The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions

People act freely (in the negative sense of "free") Determinism is false explains

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The pessimist: Moral obligation and responsiblity imply a richer kind of freedom than the negative kind of freedom you are describing. They require that when people act there is "free identification of the will with the act", and this implies the falsity of determinism. The optimist: "Free identification of the will with the act" = people often decide what to do, they really intend to do what they do, they know what they are doing, i.e. the reasons they think they have for what they are doing are really their reasons. (74) = freedom in the positive sense (i.e. when people act they decide to do what they do, they intend to do what they do, the reasons they think they have are really their reasons, etc.) That this is true when people act does not imply the falsity of determinism.

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The optimist: The application of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility regulates behavior in socially desirable ways.

The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions.

People act freely, in the negative and positive senses.

Determinism is false.

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The pessimist: The application of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility regulates behavior in socially desirable ways.

The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions.

People act freely, in the negative and positive senses.

Determinism is false.

People act freely, in another sense.

Determinism is false.

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Strawson: "But might we not induce the pessimist to give up saying this by giving the optimist something more to say?" (75) We're going to induce the pessimist to give up on her insistence on this additional kind of freedom by changing the optimist's story about the basis of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility To begin this project, Strawson changes the subject. Instead of examining the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility, and the practices of punishment and blame, expressing moral condemnation and approval, he focuses on the personal reactive attitudes, e.g. gratitude, resentment, forgiveness, love & hurt feelings. Personal reactive attitudes & practices gratitude resentment forgiveness love hurt feelings etc. Vicarious analogues of personal reactive attitudes moral obligation moral responsibility punishment blame moral condemnation, approval etc.

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Jones willingly and knowingly steps on Smith's feet. This is witnessed by Wilson who is an uninvolved bystander. Wilson: feels moral condemnation directed at Jones / blames Jones = vicarious analogue of personal reactive attitude Smith: resentment, hurt feelings towards Jones = personal reactive attitude Jones: shame = personal reactive attitude Strawson is interested in the question of what justifies - what is the basis of - our personal reactive attitudes, and does this basis lead to a conflict with determinism?

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Strawson: "If someone treads on my hand accidentally, while trying to help me, the pain may be no less acute than if he treads on it in contemptuous disregard of my existence or with a malevolent wish to injure me. But I shall generally feel in the second case a kind and degree of resentment that I shall not feel in the first."(76) The experience of personal reactive attitudes is tied to our perception of another's attitudes towards us and their intentions and motives in acting.

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When are the personal reactive attitudes suspended or modified or mollified? In what situations may one person inflict harm on another and the victim not feel resentment, or feel modified or mollified resentment? X injures Y. In what cases might Y not feel resentment? Strawson: there are 2 sorts of cases 1. Extenuating circumstances. he didn't mean to he couldn't help it it was the only way It may be said of X that: he hadn't realized he didn't know he was pushed he had to do it they didn't give him any alternative

This particular instance of injury is one in which resentment is suspended. But X himself is not regarded as an agent to whom the attitude of resentment should be suspended. Facts about the event, not the agent, disqualify it from generating resentment.

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The second group of cases has 2 sub-groups 2. Deficiency in agent. It may be said of X that: he wasn't himself he has been under great strain recently he was acting under post-hypnotic suggestion temporary suspension, at the time of injury, of reactive attitudes towards X

he's only a child he's a hopeless schizophrenic his mind has been systematically perverted that's purely compulsive behavior on his part permanent suspension of reactive attitudes towards X; X is psychologically abnormal

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If X falls into this second sub-group we adopt the objective attitude toward him. Strawson: "To adopt the objective attitude to another human being is to see him, perhaps, as an object of social policy; as a subject for what, in a wide range of sense, might be called treatment; as something certainly to be taken account, perhaps precautionary account of; to be managed or handled or cured or trained; perhaps simply to be avoided...."(79) when one adopts the objective attitude towards someone, reactive attitudes are suspended (or modified or mollified)

"If your attitude towards someone is wholly objective, then though you may fight him, you cannot quarrel with him, and though you may talk to him, even negotiate with him, you cannot reason with him."(79) One may adopt the objective attitude toward someone temporarily, as in cases that fall in the first sub-group. The alternative is the participant attitude, in which the personal reactive attitudes are not suspended.

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Recall: Strawson is interested in the question of what justifies - what is the basis of our personal reactive attitudes, and does this basis lead to a conflict with determinism? Suppose we discovered that determinism is true. Would that lead us to suspend our reactive attitudes? There are two sorts of cases in which we suspend these attitudes. 1. Extenuating circumstances. Suppose we discovered that all actions are determined, in some sense of "determined". Would that lead us to say, in all cases of injury, "he didn't mean it", "he didn't know", "he was pushed", etc.? Strawson: NO. "The prevalence of this happy state of affairs would not be a consequence of the reign of universal determinism, but the reign of universal goodwill."(80) 2. Deficiency in agent. Supposed we discovered that all actions are determined. Would this lead us to adopt the objective attitude towards everyone all the time? Strawson: NO. "A sustained objectivity of inter-personal attitude, and the human isolation which that would entail, does not seem to be something of which human beings would be capable, even if some general truth were a theoretical ground for it."(81)

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A further point about case 2. When we do adopt the objective attitude towards X, we do so because: (i) X is exceptional, i.e. abnormal or incapacitated in some manner (X is a child, schizophrenic, etc.) (ii) X is normal, but for reasons of "policy or self-protection" we find it useful to temporarily adopt the objective attitude According to Strawson, we do NOT adopt the objective attitude because we decide that determinism holds for this particular person - that this persons actions are determined. 2 points here: 1. it is not practically possible for human beings to engage in a general suspension of the personal reactive attitudes, even if we discovered the truth of determinism 2. the truth of determinism is not one of the reasons that would lead us to adopt the objective attitude 16

Recall the debate between the optimist and pessimist. The optimist bases her argument on a view about the "adequate basis" for our moral concepts and practices. She thinks these concepts and practices are justified by the fact that they regulate behavior in socially desirable ways. This is why the optimist thinks that the truth of determinism does not conflict with moral concepts and practices. Because the justification for these practices stems from their social utility, and the truth of determinism would not change the fact that they are socially useful, the truth of determinism does not threaten the justification for moral concepts and practices. The issue here is about the ground or basis or justification for our moral concepts and practices. (We've been talking about personal reactive attitudes, but we'll come back to their vicarious analogues.)

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At this point the incompatibilist might make the following objection to Strawson: - you say that it would be "practically inconceivable" for us to engage in a general suspension of the reactive attitudes because of the truth of determinism. That may or may not be true - it is irrelevant. The important question is what would be right for us to do in the light of determinism's truth - what we would be justified or not justified in doing. It may be that what would be right is not something that is practically conceivable.

Here's an analogy. Suppose I am in a desperate financial situation. My only hope is to win the lottery. In order to avoid a nervous breakdown, I convince myself that I'm going to win. Without the belief that I'm going to win I would lose all hope and go insane. It is "practically inconceivable" for me to give up this belief. Yet, the chances of winning are 1 in 28 million. So it is entirely unreasonable for me to believe that I'm going to win. My belief is not justified. Still, I can't give it up because doing so would drive me crazy. The incompatibilist's objection is that Strawson may have shown that the reactive attitudes are practically necessary, but this doesn't establish that they would still be justified if we discovered that determinism is true.

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This is reminiscent of David Hume's views on induction. Hume famously argued that we are not justified in believing anything about what we have not observed, for example, the future. Hume's argument against induction shows that the only possible source of justification for beliefs about the future is circular. Hence, all of our beliefs about the future are unjustified. Your belief that the sun will rise tomorrow is not justified. But, Hume also thought that it is "practically inconceivable" for us to give up these beliefs. It is part of human nature to believe that the future will unfold in moreor-less predictable ways. Even if we wanted to, we couldn't stop forming beliefs and expectations about the future. This is the case even though we have no rational grounds for these beliefs and expectations.

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Strawson: our commitment to participant inter-personal relationships "is part of the general framework of human life, not something that can come up for review as particular cases can come up for review within this general framework. And I shall reply, second, that if we could imagine what we cannot have, viz. a choice in this matter, then we could choose rationally only in the light of an assessment of the gains and losses to human life, its enrichment or impoverishment; and the truth or falsity of a general thesis of determinism would not bear on the rationality of this choice."(83) 2 points 1. adopting the participant attitude towards others is part of being human - it is not the sort of thing that can be justified, or that needs justification 2. if we were to try to justify the framework of participant attitudes, the justification would be practical or pragmatic - it would stem from the benefits to our lives that arise from general adoption of these attitudes. It would not be a theoretical justification, based on whether or not our actions meet certain scientific or objective conditions (e.g. being undetermined, being conducive to the regulation of behavior in socially desirable ways) (1) is really Strawson's view. The personal reactive attitudes are not the sorts of things that need justification.

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Recall the lottery example. For Strawson to make a response like (2) to that example, he would say that my belief that I will win the lottery is justified because it is beneficial for me to have the belief - it is conducive to my wellbeing. This would be to give a pragmatic account of justification for beliefs. I take it that a pragmatic account of justification for beliefs is implausible. My belief that I will win the lottery is not justified simply because it makes me feel better. But the situation is very different for mental states like resentment, approval, love, hurt feelings, and the other personal reactive attitudes. It is more plausible to suppose that what makes these feeling justified is whether they are conducive to human well-being. The pessimist might respond that the personal reactive attitudes are partly constituted by beliefs. resentment = (perception of ill will + belief that injury was voluntary & deliberate + ......) Furthermore, resentment is justified only if the belief it contains is justified, and this belief cannot be justified pragmatically. Hence, resentment cannot be justified pragmatically.

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At this point we need a more thorough analysis of resentment and the other personal reactive attitudes. Do they involve belief? This is a hard question. Even if we decide that resentment does involve belief, Strawson's real position is that emotions like resentment do not require any justification. Experiencing resentment is simply part of what it is to be human - it is not something that demands a rationale. Hence, if there are beliefs built into resentment, then these beliefs do not require any justification.

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Instead of trying to resolve these difficult issues, let's continue with Strawson's argument. Return now to the vicarious analogues of the personal reactive attitudes, i.e. moral indignation/disapprobation, moral approbation, etc. Just like the personal reactive attitudes, the application of these concepts is suspended in two sorts of cases. Suppose X injures Y, and this is witnessed by Z. There are 2 sorts of cases in which Z will not feel moral indignation toward X: 1. Extenuating circumstances. X didn't know what he was doing, etc. - X is still viewed as a morally responsible agent, but in this particular instance, because of extenuating circumstances, X is not responsible 2. Deficiency in agent. X is somehow abnormal (or a child). - Z adopts the objective attitude towards X, does not view X as a morally responsible agent, but rather as someone who should be managed, treated and controlled.

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Again, Strawson asks: Suppose we discovered that determinism is true. Would that lead us to suspend our application of moral concepts? There are two sorts of cases in which we suspend application of moral concepts: extenuating circumstances deficiency in agent Would the discovery that determinism is true lead us to think that all situations in which a moral concept might apply fall under extenuating circumstances, or deficiency in agent? Strawson: No. It is "practically inconceivable" for such a general suspension to occur. Furthermore, when we do suspend the application of moral concepts, it is never because of a recognition that someone's action is determined, i.e. that determinism holds in a particular case. Strawson: "First, we must note, as before, that when the suspension of such an attitude or such attitudes occurs in a particular case, it is never the consequence of the belief that the piece of behaviour in question was determined in a sense such that all behaviour might be, and, if determinism is true, all behaviour is, determined in that sense."(87) 24

Strawson: "Finally, to the further question whether it would not be rational, given a general theoretical conviction of the truth of determinism, so to change our world that in it all these attitudes were wholly suspended, I must answer, as before, that one who presses this question has wholly failed to grasp the import of the preceding answer, the nature of the human commitment that is here involved: it is useless to ask whether it would not be rational for us to do what it is not in our nature to (be able to) do."(87) [Sorry about the long quotations - Strawson puts this so much better than I ever possibly could.] Let's now return to the optimist and pessimist.

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The optimist: The application of the concepts of moral obligation and responsibility regulates behavior in socially desirable ways.

The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions.

People act freely, in the negative and positive senses.

Determinism is false. explains

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Strawson thinks that by arguing that moral concepts and practices are justified by their social utility, the optimist is guilty of adopting a general, objective attitude towards human beings. By justifying moral concepts and practices in this way, the optimist is viewing everyone as objects that need to be managed, treated and controlled. "The pessimist recoils from this picture; and in his recoil there is, typically, an element of emotional shock." (88) There is both conceptual shock and emotional shock in the pessimist's response. Conceptual shock: the optimist's general objective attitude is inconsistent with her application of moral concepts and practices. The application of these concepts and practices requires adopting the participant attitude towards other human beings. Emotional shock: by adopting a thorough-going objective attitude, the optimist is recommending a revision in human nature. The thorough-going objective attitude requires a general suspension of both personal reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues - something which is not humanly possible.

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The pessimist's reaction: Theoretical or metaphysical justification (e.g. `contra-causal freedom')

The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions.

People act freely.

Determinism is false.

Strawson: "panicky metaphysics of libertarianism"

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Strawson thinks that both the optimist and pessimist are guilty of the same basic error - they think that our moral concepts and practices require some justification from "outside". Strawson: "Inside the general structure or web of human attitudes and feelings of which I have been speaking, there is endless room for modification, redirection, criticism, and justification. But questions of justification are internal to the structure or relate to modifications internal to it. The existence of the general framework of attitudes itself is something we are given with the fact of human society. As a whole, it neither calls for, nor permits, an external `rational' justification."(91) The common mistake made by both optimist and pessimist is to look for some external or objective basis for our moral concepts and practices. For Strawson, these concepts and practices are simply a fact of human nature - they are not the sorts of things that require a ground or justification. Any attempt to find such an external ground reveals a misunderstanding of their character.

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Strawson No ground required The concepts of moral obligation and responsibility have justified application to people and their actions.

People act freely, in the negative and positive senses.

Determinism is false.

explained internally, by the demands of our moral concepts and practices themselves

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Thomas Nagel, "Freedom" Nagel starts his paper with these two sentences: "Something peculiar happens when we view action from an objective or external standpoint. Some of its most important features seem to vanish under the objective gaze." (229) What does Nagel mean by the "objective" or "external" standpoint? What is the "objective gaze"? Strawson used the term "internal" when describing the system of personal reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues. He thought that within this system there is room for modification and adjustment. But the system as a whole requires no "external" justification - no ground or basis that is outside the system. How should we understand this talk of "internal" and "external"?

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Let's focus on what Strawson says, and come back to Nagel. Strawson describes the personal reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues as forming a: "...general structure or web of human attitudes and feelings..."(91) Strawson went to great length to articulate a number of features of this "general structure" of human attitudes. For example, he argued that within this structure there are two sorts of reasons for suspending the reactive attitudes, i.e. extenuating circumstances deficiency in agent Furthermore, an internal feature of this structure is that, according to Strawson, accepting the truth of determinism will not lead us to a general suspension of the reactive attitudes. It is an internal feature of this web of attitudes that we suspend these attitudes only in cases of extenuating circumstances and deficiency in agent. Accepting the truth of determinism would not lead us to view all interactions as falling under one or the other of these. Hence, from the inside, the truth of determinism poses no threat to the reactive attitudes.

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You might think, though, that this misunderstands the problem posed by determinism. The problem that determinism poses is an external problem for the entire web of reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues, i.e. it's a problem for the general structure as a whole. One might agree with Strawson in thinking that when we are within this structure - i.e. when we are experiencing the reactive attitudes towards one another, and participating in the practices of moral evaluation - determinism does not threaten to force us to suspend these atttitudes and activities. But when we step outside this general structure of attitudes and practices whatever that means - then determinism does pose a general problem for the structure as a whole. One might think that the truth of determinism shows that the structure itself is somehow unjustified or groundless or confused or in error. But what does it mean to "step outside" the reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues? Perhaps it would be to adopt, across the board, Strawson's "objective attitude". This would involve a general suspension of all reactive attitudes and moral evaluations. It would mean viewing everyone, including oneself, as objects to be treated, managed and controlled. Strawson, of course, thinks that this is not humanly possible.

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If Strawson is right, then determinism poses no threat to the reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues. It poses no internal threat, and furthermore, since it is impossible for us to occupy an external point of view - a position outside the general structure - determinism cannot pose any external threat. Strawson's argument: 1. occupying the external standpoint = adopting the objective stance towards everyone 2. occupying the objective stance towards everyone is not humanly possible 3. therefore, occupying the external standpoint is not humanly possible And, because of (3): 4. determinism poses no external threat to the general structure of reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues

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Nagel accepts this characterization of the external standpoint. And to a certain extent, he agrees with Strawson that occupying this external standpoint is "not humanly possible". What is not humanly possible, according to Nagel, is to remain for a sustained period of time in the external standpoint. There is constant pressure to descend back to the everyday framework of reactive attitudes and moral evaluations (see William Calley example, p.242). But that does not mean that the standpoint is completely closed off or that there really isn't any standpoint there at all. So it is humanly possible to occupy the external standpoint, i.e. take a general objective attitude towards everyone, but only temporarily. We will necessarily fall back into the participant attitude. But this is enough to raise the external threat of determinism.

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Nagel makes another point about this. There are aspects of the internal perspective that drive us to the external, objective perspective. As we have seen, and as Strawson argues, from within the general structure of reactive attitudes and moral evaluations, there are occasions on which we are called to adopt the objective attitude towards someone, i.e. in cases of deficiency in the agent. The fact that this objective stance is available from within the system naturally opens up the possibility of widening its domain of application. Nagel: "The problem of free will, like the problem of skepticism, does not arise because of a philosophically imposed demand for external justification of the entire system of ordinary judgments and attitudes. It arises because there is a continuity between familiar "internal" criticism of the reactive attitudes on the basis of specific facts, and philosophical criticisms on the basis of supposed general facts."(244) In other words, we are pushed to the external perspective by features of the internal perspective. Internally, we find ourselves occasionally taking the objective attitude, for specific reasons of deficiency in the agent in particular cases. This naturally leads us to consider a generalized objective attitude toward everyone on the basis of general considerations (e.g. determinism).

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According to Nagel, then, not only is it humanly possible - at least temporarily - to occupy the external perspective. It is a consequence of the internal perspective that we will take up a position in the external perspective. Occupying the external perspective is a natural outgrowth of certain internal phenomena. Nagel: "When we first consider the possibility that all human actions may be determined by heredity and environment, it threatens to defuse our reactive attitudes as effectively as does the information that a particular action was caused by the effects of a drug - despite all the differences between the two suppositions."(244)

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Nagel: X steps on Y's foot. 1. Y recognizes that X's actions are the results of the effects of a drug. 2. Y adopts the objective attitude towards X, does not feel resentment, does not hold X morally responsible. 3. But then it occurs to Y that whenever anyone does anything, it is the result of the effects of "heredity and environment". 4. Y adopts the objective attitude towards everyone - ceases to hold anyone morally responsible for anything 5. This can only last for a short time. Y falls back into the participant stance.

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How might Strawson respond to this? Recall that according to Strawson, we never suspend the reactive attitudes or their vicarious analogues because of the recognition of the truth of determinism in a particular case. So, Strawson might say to Nagel that his idea that the external perspective is a natural outgrowth of the internal perspective involves a distortion of the internal facts. X steals Y's car. 1. It occurs to Y that X's behavior is the result of the effects of X's heredity and environment. Y realizes that X's behavior was determined. 2. But, contra Nagel, this does not lead Y to suspend his feelings of resentment and moral indignation towards X. 3. Y is not led to adopt the objective attitude towards everyone.

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Here's another way to put the same point. Strawson might insist that the objective attitude is a feature of the general structure of reactive attitudes and moral concepts. There are occasions in which this structure calls for the adoption of the objective attitude, e.g. in cases of deficiency in the agent. But that the objective attitude is called for in these cases is an internal feature of the general structure. Since the objective attitude is internal to the general structure, the only reasons to adopt the objective attitude must be internal reasons - i.e. the reasons that are provided internally by the general structure itself. Since these reasons never involve a recognition that someone's action is determined, according to Strawson, adoption of the objective attitude is never the result of a recognition of the truth of determinism. So Nagel's idea that the thought that determinism might be true would push us towards a general objectivity of attitude is a distortion of the internal facts about the general structure of reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues.

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Saying this, however, requires a change in the argument we attributed to Strawson earlier. Recall that argument: 1. occupying the external standpoint = adopting the objective stance towards everyone 2. occupying the objective stance towards everyone is not humanly possible 3. therefore, occupying the external standpoint is not humanly possible And, because of (3): 4. determinism poses no external threat to the general structure of reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues In making this reply to Nagel, Strawson is essentially insisting that the objective stance is part of the internal perspective - one doesn't leave that perspective by occupying the objective stance. So then how do we understand the external standpoint, if it is not simply a generalized version of the objective stance?

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Strawson might argue that we have no conception of this "external perspective" there is nothing to this idea. And if that is right, then obviously there is no place from which determinism can pose a general threat to the general structure of reactive attitudes and their vicarious analogues. There are a number of ways for Nagel to respond. One would be to disagree with Strawson about the effects of a recognition of the truth of determinism. That is, Nagel could say that when Y realizes that X's behavior is just the result of X's heredity and environment Y does take the objective stance toward X, and ceases to feel resentment or moral indignation. If Nagel takes this route, I think things will end in a stand-off. But perhaps there is another route that Nagel could take - one that would involve a different account of the external perspective.

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Here are some things Nagel says about the external perspective: "..from an external perspective, things look different. That perspective takes in not only the circumstances of action as they present themselves to the agent, but also the conditions and influences lying behind the action, including the complete nature of the agent himself."(232) "Why are we not content to regard the internal perspective of agency as a form of clouded subjective appearance, based as it inevitably must be on an incomplete view of the circumstances? The alternatives are alternatives only relative to what we know, and our choices result from influences of which we are only partly aware. The external perspective would then provide a more complete view, superior to the internal."(233, my emphasis) The idea seems to be that from the external perspective we know more - i.e. we know more about the factors involved in producing an action. The external perspective provides a "more complete view".

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Here's an analogy. Suppose Y is a detective investigating a murder. Y interviews witnesses, collects evidence from the crime scene, tries to deduce a motive, interrogates suspects, etc. On the basis of this investigative work Y forms a theory of how the murder happened. According to his theory, X is the murderer. Now suppose that there is an old man who sits in his apartment all day and watches what happens in the apartments across the street where the murder took place. The man has had a birds-eye view of all the events leading up to the murder, the murder itself, and all of Y's investigations. The man has even been able to eavesdrop on all of the detectives interviews and has a friend on the police force who has been providing information about the investigation. The old man knows who committed the murder - it was Z. But he also understands exactly how Y has come to believe that it was X. He knows who committed the murder, and he knows in detail how Y has gone wrong. Y occupies the internal perspective. From inside the investigation he concludes that X is the murderer. The old man occupies an external perspective. He has a "more complete view". From his perspective, he can see that Z is the murderer.

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Now consider a case of action. Y is deciding about who to vote for in a coming election. Y reads the platforms of the competing parties, reads the statements of the various candidates, consults the editorial pages of the newspapers, weighs his concerns about the issues of the day and comes to a decision. Y ends up voting for X. All along, it has seemed to Y that he had a number of alternatives open to him and that it was a matter of choice whom to vote for. Y voted for X, but he could have voted for Z or for W. This is how things look to Y from the internal perspective. Suppose that Y's psychiatrist, who has known Y since birth, has been keeping close watch on Y's deliberations. The psychiatrist knows that, because of Y's upbringing and the deeply buried influences of Y's father, etc. etc., it was inevitable that Y was going to choose X. The psychiatrist has a more complete view, from which things look different than they do to Y. Y occupies the internal perspective, the psychiatrist the external perspective.

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On this way of explaining the internal / external distinction, occupying the external perspective involves having more information - having a more comprehensive or encompassing view of an action and the factors that produced it. Nagel: "While we cannot fully occupy this [external] perspective toward ourselves while acting, it seems possible that many of the alternatives that appear to lie open when viewed from an internal perspective would seem closed from this outer point of view, if we could take it up. And even if some of them are left open, given a complete specification of the condition of the agent and the circumstances of action, it is not clear how this would leave anything further for the agent to contribute to the outcome - anything that he could contribute as source, rather than merely as the scene of the outcome - the person whose act it is."(232) "From an external perspective, then, the agent and everything about him seems to be swallowed up by the circumstances of action; nothing of him is left to intervene in those circumstances."(232) Nagel thinks that as our perspective becomes more and more complete, we will see that the number of genuine options open to the agent becoming fewer and fewer, until we get to the point where there is only one alternative, and so we can see that the agent really had no choice at all and so should not be held responsible.

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According to Nagel, the external perspective poses a serious threat to our conception of our own actions from the internal perspective. We think that we are autonomous 1. prior to acting we have a number of alternatives open to us 2. the action we choose is rationally explicable in terms of our beliefs and desires (reasons) 3. our reasons do not causally necessitate our choices

R1 agent R3 R2

A R2 B agent B

C

R2 rationally explains why the agent did B, but R2 did not causally necessitate B

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This is how things appear to us from the internal perspective. It appears to us as though we act autonomously. The threat posed by the external perspective is that this is always an illusion. Nagel: "The objective view seems to wipe out such autonomy because it admits only one kind of explanation of why something happened - causal explanation and equates its absence with the absence of any explanation at all."(233) From the external perspective the only explanations are causal explanations. But to view our actions as autonomous from the internal perspective, we have to see them as incapable of causal explanation. Hence, from the external perspective, autonomous actions appear unexplained and unexplainable - they are baffling and inexplicable. This threatens our belief in autonomy.

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The reply to this is to say that there is a different kind of explanation available from the external perspective - intentional or rational explanation - a separate form of explanation from causal explanation. Citing R2 can explain why the agent did B. This is a perfectly good explanation, but it is not a causal explanation. Nagel's response: "The alternative form of explanation doesn't really explain the action at all."(234) Why not? The agent also had reasons for A and C. Merely citing B cannot explain why the agent didn't act on her reasons for A or for C. [This should sound familiar - this point came up in our discussion of agent-causation.] Nagel: "..an autonomous intentional explanation cannot explain precisely what it is supposed to explain, namely why I did what I did rather than the alternative that was causally open to me."(235)

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Nagel From the internal perspective (an incomplete view): 1. many alternatives are open to agents 2. when agents act they are responsible for their actions 3. agent's act autonomously - their reasons rationalize but do not causally necessitate their actions From the external perspective (a complete view): 1. no alternatives are open to the agent 2. agents are not responsible for their actions 3. the only kind of explanation is causal explanation - rational/non-causal explanation is unintelligible 4. the idea that agent's have autonomy is unintelligible

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"Something peculiar happens when we view action from an objective or external standpoint. Some of its most important features seem to vanish under the objective gaze." (229) What vanishes? - multiple alternatives open to agent, and once these are gone, responsibility is also gone - autonomy

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