, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 995–1009 | Cite as

Responsibility - Beyond Resentment and Indignation

  • Robert AlbinEmail author


My aim in this article is to flesh out a new distinction between moral responsibility, as it is understood in light of Strawson’s “reactive attitudes,” and an institutional form of responsibility—a responsibility that employees bear for their work to their superiors. I show that Strawson’s view of responsibility is separate from organizational responsibility, and hence the responsibility of employees to their managers cannot be understood in terms of indignation or resentment, both of which are key Strawsonian concepts. The latter type of responsibility can be understood in terms of objective attitudes, managerial demands, organizational standards, and related expectations. Based on a Cartesian and a Wittgensteinian notions of asymmetry between first- and third-person uses of psychological concepts, Strawson developed a view of responsibility that dissolves the above asymmetry. In contrast with the latter asymmetry, which focuses on those who ascribe psychological concepts to themselves and to others, Strawson’s view is centered on the recipients of reactive attitudes. According to his view, resentment and indignation differ because they are aimed at different recipients, something that cannot be applied in cases of organizational responsibility.


Responsibility Reactive attitudes Strawson Organizational ethics 


  1. Alexander, J. (2000). It's nothing personal, It's Just Business: Economic Instability and the Distribution of Harm. Business Ethics Quaretrly, 10(3), 545–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barclay, L. J., & Saldanha, M. F. (2016). Facilitating forgiveness in organizational contexts: Exploring the injustice gap, emotions, and expressive writing interventions. Journal of Business Ethics, 137, 699–720. Scholar
  3. Child, W. (2011). Wittgenstein on the first person. In O. Kuusela & M. McGinn (Eds.), The handbook of Wittgenstein (pp. 376–399). London: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Darwall, S. (2010). Precis: The second-person standpoint. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXXXI, 1, 216–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Davidson, D. (1984). First person authority. Dialectica, 38(2–3), 101–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Illouz, E. (2007). Cold intimacies: The making of emotional capitalism. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. Isaacs, T. (2011). Moral responsibility in collectives contexts. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lurie, Y. (2004). Humanizing business through emotions: On the role of emotions in ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 49, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Marmor, A. (2011). An Insitiutional conception of authority. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 39, 238–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. McCullough, M. E. (2000). Forgiveness as human strength: Theory, measurement, and links to well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Murphy, J. G. (1988). Forgiveness and resenment. In Forgiveness and mercy (pp. 14–34). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nussbaum, M. C. (2016). Anger and forgiveness: Resentment, generosity, justice. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Robinson, S. (2009). The nature of responsibility in a professional setting. Journal of Business Ethics, 88, 11–19. Scholar
  14. Stone, M. (2002). Forgiveness in the workplace. Industrial and Commerical Training, 34, 278–286. Scholar
  15. Strawson, P. F. (1993). Freedom and resentment in Perspectives on Moral Responsibility, eds. J. M. Fischer, and M. Ravizza (pp. 45–66). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Strawson, P. F. (2005). Individuals: An Essay in Discriptive Metaphysics. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Wallace, R. J. (1998). Responsibility and the moral sentiments. London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1988. Philosophical Investigations Trans. G. E. M Anscombe. UK: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Liberal ArtsSapir CollegeHof-AskelonIsrael

Personalised recommendations