Fischer’s Deterministic Frankfurt-Style Argument

Erkenntnis 82 (1):121-140 (2017)
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Abstract

According to the Dilemma Defense, it is question-begging against the incompatibilist defender of the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) to assume that the agent in a deterministic Frankfurt-style case (FSC) cannot do otherwise in light of causal determinism, but is nevertheless morally responsible. As a result, Fischer (Philos Rev 119:315–336, 2010; Analysis 73:489–496, 2013) attempts to undermine PAP in a different manner via a deterministic FSC. More specifically, Fischer attempts to show that if causal determinism rules out an agent’s moral responsibility, it is not in virtue of its eliminating the agent’s alternative possibilities. I contend that, once we focus upon the distinction between entailment and explanation, the incompatibilist defender of PAP can successfully rebut Fischer’s argument. I argue for this claim while granting Fischer a number of assumptions that only render a defense of PAP more difficult. Additionally, I cast doubt upon Palmer’s (Synthese 191:3847–3864, 2014) critique of Fischer’s argument, which in turn renders my defense of PAP all the more critical.

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Yishai Cohen
University of Southern Maine

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References found in this work

Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life.Derk Pereboom - 2014 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):129-134.

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