Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eddy Nahmias - Chair

Second Advisor

Sebastian Rand

Third Advisor

Timothy O'Keefe


Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument is an attempt to prove that no agent can meet the demands for true moral responsibility. The Basic Argument proceeds on the assumption that, in order for an agent to be truly morally responsible for her actions, she must be truly responsible for her reasons for performing those actions, which Strawson contends is impossible since it requires an infinite regress of truly responsible decisions to have the reasons one has. In my thesis, I take issue with the Basic Argument. I argue that, contrary to Strawson’s claims, the Basic Argument is not persuasive to those who reject that one’s reasons cause one’s actions. For those who are willing to overlook this shortcoming, I then argue that it is possible for an agent to evade the threat of infinite regress, particularly in situations where two simultaneous choices (at least partially) explain each other.

Included in

Philosophy Commons