Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?

Michael S McKenna, Brandon Warmke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will and moral responsibility. There is cause for concern that a range of situationist findings are in tension with the reasons-responsiveness putatively required for free will and moral responsibility. We develop and defend a response to the alleged situationist threat to free will and moral responsibility that we call pessimistic realism. We conclude on an optimistic note, exploring the possibility of strengthening our agency in the face of situational influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-733
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Fingerprint

Free Will
Moral Responsibility
Situationism
Situationists
Ethical Theory
Rise
Gilbert Harman
Moral Psychology
Realism
Strengthening
Situationist Movement
Reasons-responsiveness
Situational
Causes
Philosophy
Threat
Social Psychology

Keywords

  • free will
  • moral responsibility
  • reasons-responsiveness
  • situationism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

Cite this

Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility? / McKenna, Michael S; Warmke, Brandon.

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy, Vol. 14, No. 6, 01.01.2017, p. 698-733.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{43c18754f6964add9f1ca44ce9026896,
title = "Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?",
abstract = "The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will and moral responsibility. There is cause for concern that a range of situationist findings are in tension with the reasons-responsiveness putatively required for free will and moral responsibility. We develop and defend a response to the alleged situationist threat to free will and moral responsibility that we call pessimistic realism. We conclude on an optimistic note, exploring the possibility of strengthening our agency in the face of situational influences.",
keywords = "free will, moral responsibility, reasons-responsiveness, situationism",
author = "McKenna, {Michael S} and Brandon Warmke",
year = "2017",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1163/17455243-46810068",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "14",
pages = "698--733",
journal = "Journal of Moral Philosophy",
issn = "1740-4681",
publisher = "Brill",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Does Situationism Threaten Free Will and Moral Responsibility?

AU - McKenna, Michael S

AU - Warmke, Brandon

PY - 2017/1/1

Y1 - 2017/1/1

N2 - The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will and moral responsibility. There is cause for concern that a range of situationist findings are in tension with the reasons-responsiveness putatively required for free will and moral responsibility. We develop and defend a response to the alleged situationist threat to free will and moral responsibility that we call pessimistic realism. We conclude on an optimistic note, exploring the possibility of strengthening our agency in the face of situational influences.

AB - The situationist movement in social psychology has caused a considerable stir in philosophy. Much of this was prompted by the work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. Both contended that familiar philosophical assumptions about the role of character in the explanation of action were not supported by experimental results. Most of the ensuing philosophical controversy has focused upon issues related to moral psychology and ethical theory. More recently, the influence of situationism has also given rise to questions regarding free will and moral responsibility. There is cause for concern that a range of situationist findings are in tension with the reasons-responsiveness putatively required for free will and moral responsibility. We develop and defend a response to the alleged situationist threat to free will and moral responsibility that we call pessimistic realism. We conclude on an optimistic note, exploring the possibility of strengthening our agency in the face of situational influences.

KW - free will

KW - moral responsibility

KW - reasons-responsiveness

KW - situationism

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85038619742&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85038619742&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1163/17455243-46810068

DO - 10.1163/17455243-46810068

M3 - Article

VL - 14

SP - 698

EP - 733

JO - Journal of Moral Philosophy

JF - Journal of Moral Philosophy

SN - 1740-4681

IS - 6

ER -