Galen Strawson's The Impossibility Of Moral Responsibility

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Galen Strawson argues in his work, The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility, the theory that true moral responsibility is impossible. This theory is accurate whether determinism is true or false. Strawson describes this argument as the Basic Argument. He claims "nothing can be causa sui- nothing can be the cause of itself" (212). Yet, one must be causa sui to achieve true moral responsibility. Hence, nothing is able to truly be morally responsible. Strawson 's whole purpose of writing the article is to change anyone 's mind who says that we should be responsible for the way we are and what we do as a result of the way we are. He believes we are lacking freedom and control of doing so. He argues that if we do something for a reason, that is how we are, so we must be responsible. But if we are responsible for our actions, we must also be responsible for ourselves. Hence, Strawson explains that to be responsible for ourselves, we would have to have chosen to be the way we are, which we are unable to do. He ends this interpretation of the argument by stating, "[s]o…show more content…
Again, Strawson clarifies the Basic Argument that moral responsibility is impossible, this time "in very loose- as it were conversational- terms"(219). In a simpler matter, you do what you do because of the way you are. To be truly morally responsible for what you do, you must be responsible for the way you are. But, you cannot be truly responsible for the way you are; therefore, you cannot truly be morally responsible for what you do. Strawson follows this explanation of the argument by stating that we are what we are, and no punishment or reward is "fitting" for us. He then goes on to expand on the consequences of the Basic Argument. He announces that the result of this is "that there is a fundamental sense in which no punishment or reward is ever ultimately just"(221). This would mean it is just as fair to punish or reward people for their actions as it is the color of their hair or face

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