Freedom and Resentment by Peter Strawson Essay

731 Words Mar 2nd, 2011 3 Pages
In his essay, “Freedom and Resentment”, Strawson aims to prove human freedom by evaluating two opposing viewpoints, the optimist and the pessimist toward determinism, and discrediting various ideas within each argument in order to arrive at his own conclusion. It is necessary to understand that the basis of Strawson’s argument focuses on human psychology. He believes that innate tendencies engrained in our dispositions develop our subjective reactive attitudes and we are too attached to interpersonal relationships to consider changing all attitudes to objective ones. While I find Strawson’s points to be relevant and compelling, there are flaws in his argument that cannot be ignored. He begins with the optimist’s idea, which he later …show more content…
Strawson negates the pessimist’s argument because it asks us to make our attitudes wholly objective, which isn’t humanly possible, thus making this argument futile. He elaborates on the optimist’s view by introducing the belief that our moral attitudes are facts of our natural human commitment to interpersonal relationships and we are incapable of ignoring them. Regardless of determinism, moral concepts are relevant and they shape all human action, including the practices enforced by social institutions. Strawson says that because human action is guided by moral attitudes which we naturally form and are not constrained by any evident notion of pre-ordination, we are free.
I disagree with Strawson. Strawson uses his beliefs about moral attitudes to deem the pessimistic point of view irrelevant, claiming that in order to follow through with this idea, that is, an objective attitude towards everyone, we would have to perform a task we are psychologically incapable of performing. However, he fails to address positive freedom. Strawson assumes that we are free because we are incapable of changing our attitudes into objective ones does not prove human freedom at all, it proves human incapability. It merely means that innate human nature prevents us from being able to control our reactive attitudes. One can accept this
Open Document