FA20 PHIL496/596

Special Topics: Moral Responsibility
Professor: Marie Jayasekera
Wednesdays  ·  05:30pm–8:15pm  ·  LA5–246

This course is an advanced, focused inquiry into contemporary philosophical work on moral responsibility. In particular, we will focus on a prominent, influential, and lively strand of the literature: P. F. Strawson’s landmark paper, ‘Freedom and Resentment’ (1962), and the ensuing conversation that has engaged with and debated the issues he presents in that paper. As background to Strawson’s account of moral responsibility, we will begin with an overview of the issues and main positions in the free will and determinism debate. We’ll then turn to Strawson’s paper, developments of his position, and critiques of the Strawsonian approach. The last half of the course will explore related issues that will not only tie together our discussions of the preceding material but are also fascinating topics in their own right: (i) the nature of blame, (ii) the phenomenon of the psychopath and the question of whether psychopaths are morally responsible, and (iii) other relevant case studies (may include the cases of wartime atrocities, autism, and others).