Alexander Carty

I’m a second-year PhD student in philosophy at McGill. My supervisors are Chris Howard and David Davies. I hold an MA in philosophy from Wilfrid Laurier University (2019-2020) and a BA in philosophy from the University of Guelph (2015-2019). My areas of specialty are metaethics (especially moral responsibility), normative ethics, and the philosophy of emotion. I also have side interests in metaphysics and moral epistemology. My GRIN project will be complementary to my candidacy paper which is concerned with relationship between emotions, normative reasons, and moral responsibility. My research at McGill is supported by a SSHRC doctoral fellowship.    

Since completing MA thesis I have been working on writing a co-authored paper with Neil Campbell, who is a professor of philosophy at Wilfrid Laurier University. In this co-authored paper we offer an account of a widely underappreciated aspect of P.F. Strawson’s famous discussion of the “reactive attitudes,” which is his observation that we can “half-suspend” the reactive attitudes with what he calls “the objective attitude.”

My GRIN project builds from this co-authored paper. In recent years, many commentators who invoke Strawson’s name in their accounts of moral responsibility would accept Strawson’s Thesis: the reactive attitudes involved in our practices of praising and blaming are appropriate if and only if the targets of these attitudes are morally responsible. Drawing on my account of the half-suspended reactive attitudes, I shall argue for replacing Strawson’s Thesis with what I’ll call Strawson’s Degree Thesis: the degree to which an agent is an appropriate target of our practices blaming or praising attitudes is a function of the degree to which that agent is morally responsible. In my estimation, this maneuver puts us in a position to rethink the standoff in recent debates about so-called “response-dependent” and “response-independent” readings of Strawson’s Thesis.