Responsibility, determinism, and the objective stance: Using IAT to evaluate Strawson’s account of our ‘incompatibilist’ intuitions

Daniel Cohen, Jeremy Goldring, Lauren Saling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


People who judge that a wrongdoer’s behaviour is determined are disposed, in certain cases, to judge that the wrongdoer cannot be responsible for his behaviour. Some try to explain this phenomenon by arguing that people are intuitive incompatibilists about determinism and moral responsibility. However, Peter Strawson argues that we excuse determined wrongdoers because judging that someone is determined puts us into a psychological state – ‘the objective stance’ – which prevents us from holding them responsible, not because we think that determined wrongdoers cannot be responsible. Two studies were completed to test the claim that the objective stance prevents us from judging wrongdoers responsible. Implicit association measures revealed that participants primed in the objective stance appraised a wrongdoer more positively, but as no less blameworthy, than those neutrally primed. These findings raise doubts about Strawson’s explanation of our tendency to excuse determined wrongdoers.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date04 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Grant Number

  • DP110101810

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