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The Australian National University

Daphne Brandenburg (Radboud University Nijmegen): Inadequate Agency and Appropriate Anger

Date and time

Tue, 18/04/2017 - 15:30 - 17:30


Coombs Seminar Room A

It is topical in moral psychology to equate the abilities required for being deserving of blame with the abilities required for being an appropriate addressee of the reactive attitudes. The most influential account of these abilities is reason responsiveness (McGeer & Pettit, 2015; McKenna, 2012; Shoemaker, 2015; Wallace, 1996; Watson 1993). Among other things reason-responsiveness is argued to render one an appropriate and deserving addressee because this capacity allows one to understand what reactive attitudes convey or communicate and this capacity can be sensitized and cultivated by expressions of the reactive attitudes(McGeer, 2014; McGeer & Pettit, 2015; McKenna, 2012; M. Vargas, 2013; Watson, Gary, 1993).

Our emotional engagements with compromised or underdeveloped agents are a central but under-theorized aspect of our interpersonal practices. I argue that we feel and express reactive attitudes towards these people, and that these responses can be successful forms of communication that sensitize and cultivate the addressees’ responsiveness to moral reasons. Because these people should not be considered blameworthy, the abilities required for being an appropriate addressee of the reactive attitudes are to be distinguished from the abilities required for deserved blame.

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