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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 116, Issue 3, March 2019

David Shoemaker
Pages 125-148
DOI: 10.5840/jphil201911638

Hurt Feelings

In introducing the reactive attitudes “of people directly involved in transactions with each other,” P. F. Strawson lists “gratitude, resentment, forgiveness, love, and hurt feelings.” To show how our interpersonal emotional practices of responsibility could not be undermined by determinism’s truth, Strawson focused exclusively on resentment, specifically on its nature and actual excusing and exempting conditions. So have many other philosophers theorizing about responsibility in Strawson’s wake. This method and focus has generated a host of quality of will theories of responsibility. What I show in this paper is that if Strawson—and his followers—had focused on hurt feelings instead of resentment, not only would quality of will theories of responsibility be disfavored, but none of our other theories of responsibility could adequately account for them. I conclude by exploring what a conundrum this poses for our methods and starting points in theorizing about responsibility.