Higher Sem in Practical Philosophy: Anton Emilsson "Strawson’s Minimal Optimism"

24 november 2022 13:15 till 15:00 Seminarium

Anton Emilsson (LU) will give a self-contained talk at the higher seminar in practical philosophy. 

Here is his title and abstract:

Strawson’s Minimal Optimism


In his influential “Freedom and Resentment”, P. F. Strawson is recognized for taking a naturalistic approach to the issue of free will and responsibility. This is meant to secure some “optimism” about responsibility in light of determinism (i.e. compatibilism). At the heart of his approach is the inescapability claim: it is impossible, for us as we are, to abandon our practices of responsibility, the conceptual framework sustaining those practices, and our reactive attitudes to ourselves and others. For all his acclaim, the inescapability claim itself is generally considered “inadequate”, “implausible” or “irrelevant”. In this paper, I argue that we should understand Strawson’s position on free will as Minimal Optimism. The central idea of Minimal Optimism is that, on a distinction between the concept of responsibility and a conception of responsibility, it is the concept of responsibility that is inescapable for us, and this inescapability is sufficient for the fundamental irrelevance of determinism. First of all, this paper is interpretative: this is how we should understand Strawson’s view. But the ambition is also to provide an independently attractive reconstruction of Strawson’s naturalistic approach. That the will is as free as it needs to be, as the Minimal Optimist holds, expresses an orientation that remains, for all of Strawson’s influence, unappreciated in the contemporary discussion—therefore, the inescapability claim is neither inadequate, implausible or irrelevant; it is foundational.

The talk will be self-contained. 



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24 november 2022 13:15 till 15:00



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