Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 5–21 | Cite as

Saving Strawson: Evil and Strawsonian Accounts of Moral Responsibility

  • Peter Brian Barry


Almost everyone allows that conditions can obtain that exempt agents from moral responsibility—that someone is not a morally responsible agent if certain conditions obtain. In his seminal “Freedom and Resentment,” Peter Strawson denies that the truth of determinism globally exempts agents from moral responsibility. As has been noted elsewhere, Strawson appears committed to the surprising thesis that being an evil person is an exempting condition. Less often noted is the fact that various Strawsonians—philosophers sympathetic with Strawson’s account of moral responsibility—at least appear to have difficulty incorporating evil persons into their accounts of moral responsibility. In what follows, I argue that Strawson is not committed to supposing that being evil is an exempting condition—at least, that he can allow that evil persons are morally responsible agents.


Strawson Evil Extremity Compatibilism Moral responsibility 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saginaw Valley State UniversityUniversity CenterUSA

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