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Pedersen Gives Invited Lecture at Duquesne University

Hans Pedersen, Philosophy, gave an invited lecture at Duquesne University on October 18, 2013. Pedersen's talk, "Heidegger, Strawon, and Responsibility," was part of the Duquesne Philosophy Department's Speaker Series.

Abstract. In his article, “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility,” Galen Strawson famously argues that truly being responsible for our actions is impossible. For my purposes, I consider the argument to have two main parts. Put succinctly, in the first part, Strawson argues that no agent can ever be the cause of herself; true responsibility requires that the agent be the cause of herself; therefore, true responsibility is impossible. In the second part of Strawson’s argument, he makes the case that there are no alternatives to responsibility thought of as being the cause of oneself that are worthwhile.  Naturally, Strawson’s argument has attracted a good deal of criticism, but nonetheless, I think the argument articulates a fairly common and prima facie plausible view of what we want out of any account of responsibility. In this paper, I want to develop a Heideggerian response to Strawson’s argument and the conception of responsibility that Strawson employs in that argument. There is no clear point of intersection between Strawson’s work on responsibility and Heidegger’s thought (that I know of), but I hope that such a jarring juxtaposition and forced dialogue will show both how Heidegger’s thought can be connected to more mainstream philosophical discussions of agency, responsibility, and free will and how Heidegger’s thought, with a bit of development, can serve as a plausible and relatively unexplored alternative to these mainstream discussions.

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