I don't read much in action theory, but had a hunch that it was time to take a look at Strawson's "Freedom and Resentment." (File this under "classics that perhaps I should have already read"?)
There's much to appreciate in the paper. One the one hand, I find myself thinking, "Ok, so maybe I can live with compatibilism." But then Strawson offers some good criticisms of some types of compatiblist thinking. And then I find myself thinking, "Ah, maybe the point is not to settle on a camp, but just to see that I can walk away from the 'free will problem' without guilt." And although it's a nice line of writing, I find myself unsure what to think about Strawson's remark about "the obscure and panicky metaphysics of libertarianism."
However, I came to Strawson's paper for a particular purpose, in the midst of trying to think about the relationship between patience, tolerance, and forgiveness, and revisiting some ideas from Buddhist sources I've discussed earlier in the manuscript on patience as tolerance. This relates to the problem of determinism insofar as Shantideva's argument for cultivating tolerance depends upon what looks like a commitment to what we (Westerners, I suppose) would call determinism: every action is caused, and coming to understand the causes of a person's harmful deeds or words toward me can help (he suggests) foster a more tolerant, or patient, attitude toward this person.
This looks like a matter of adopting the "objective attitude" toward the person, in Strawson's terms. And one thing that Strawson is good on is the idea that taking the objective attitude is not a way of relating to another, if I can put it this way, as a person. So it might seem that there's something somehow inhumane (insulting, etc.) about the perspective Shantideva recommends.
Strawson also characterizes forgiveness as a reactive attitude that operates from within a personal perspective. I take his implicit point to be that it makes little sense to forgive someone from the position of the "objective attitude" in which we simply view the other as an object of social policy, etc. Although tolerance and forgiveness are different, I'm inclined to think that there's a connection in our typical thinking about character--that a tolerant person tends to be, for that, a forgiving person. But in the case of Shantideva, if tolerance (patience) is fostered by adopting a more objective attitude, then there seems to be a conflict--at least, I'd need to return to a more personal attitude toward the person in order to forgive the person. Perhaps, as Strawson seems to suggest (and this is an idea Thomas Nagel develops in some of his pieces in Mortal Questions), we can't think of either perspective as the "correct" one? So we can remember that--if something like determinism is true--there's a whole slew of causes acting on a person, but we also have to remember that we can't avoid relating to people, in general, as persons, and not merely animate objects.
This might suggest that the problem with the quip, "To understand all is to forgive all," rests on the mistake of conflating two available perspectives: understanding of the sort that comes from the objective perspective can't justify forgiveness; whether forgiveness is right depends upon considerations from within the personal perspective. (Hence discussions about whether forgiveness is required when a sincere apology is made, and whether forgiveness without apology is either reasonable or even required in some cases, etc.)
What I'm trying to get a handle on is how far a recognition of the value and virtue of patience can take us in sorting out questions about when or how much to tolerate, and what the task of cultivating patience might tell us about when and what to forgive. Stay tuned.