The Aristotelian Society

The Aristotelian Society

est. 1880

Symposium V


Catriona Mackenzie | The  Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | University of Hertfordshire

Culpability, blame and the moral dynamics of social power



This paper responds to recent work on moral blame, which has drawn attention to the ambivalent nature of our blaming practices and to the need to ‘civilise’ these practices. It argues that the project of civilising blame must engage with a further problematic feature of these practices, namely that they can be implicated in structures of social oppression, and distorted by epistemic and discursive injustice. The paper also aims to show that engaging with this problem raises questions about the Strawsonian equation of moral responsibility with liability to praise or blame.



Catriona Mackenzie is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities. She works primarily in moral, social and political philosophy, and has published in a wide variety of journals and edited volumes on a broad range of topics in moral psychology, feminist philosophy and applied ethics. Mackenzie’s co-edited volumes include Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self (Oxford University Press, 2000), Practical Identity and Narrative Agency (Routledge, 2008), Vulnerability: New Essays in Ethics and Feminist Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2014), Social Dimensions of Moral Responsibility (Oxford University Press, 2018), and Procedural Justice and Relational Theory: Empirical, Philosophical and Legal Perspectives (Routledge, 2020).

Maria Alvarez | The Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | University of Hertfordshire

P.F. Strawson, Moral Theories and ‘the Problem of Blame’: ‘Freedom and Resentment’ Revisited



After nearly sixty years, the influence of Peter Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’ remains strong in discussions of moral responsibility. However, as the paper has become more remote in time and in intellectual climate, some of those influences have turned into amplifications of ideas and claims that are misinterpretations or distortions of the paper, while other notions have been projected onto it. I try to make the case for this charge specifically in relation to what has become accepted as Strawson’s ‘response-dependent’ theory of moral responsibility and to an allegedly problematic conception of blame said to be at the centre of that theory. Against that background, I comment on the current philosophical project to ‘civilise’ blame.


Maria Alvarez is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London, having previously taught at the University of Southampton. She’s the author of Kinds of Reasons; an Essay in the Philosophy of Action and works mainly on philosophy of action, reasons and normativity. She’s currently working on a monograph on agency, choice and moral responsibility. She is Co-Editor, with Bill Brewer, of Philosophy the journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.



further info

future joint sessions

2021 joint session:

16-18 july 2021

2022 joint session:
St Andrews

8-10 july 2022

2023 joint session:

7-10 july 2023

supplementary volume

The inaugural address and symposia for the Joint Session are published in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume, which is published digitally and in hardcover every June. The Supplementary Volume is sent to subscribing members of the Society in categories 4 and 5.

Members in other categories can purchase the hardcover Supplementary Volume from the Online Shop. Volumes will also be available at the registration desk during the conference.

Subscriptions to the Supplementary Volume also includes online access via Wiley Online Library (please note that one-off purchases of the hardcover volume do not include membership or online access).

The 2018 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | Cardiff University

past conferences

2020 joint session:

10 - 12 july 2020

2019 joint session:

19 - 21 july 2019

2018 joint session:

6 - 8 july 2018

subscribing memberships

Subscribing members receive online access to the Proceedings from 2000 to the most current issue.

Subscribing members also receive the bound, hardcover volume of the latest Proceedings through the post.