The Problem of Enhanced Control

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):687 - 706 (2011)
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Abstract

A crucial question for libertarians about free will and moral responsibility concerns how their accounts secure more control than compatibilism. This problem is particularly exasperating for event-causal libertarianism, as it seems that the only difference between these accounts and compatibilism is that the former require indeterminism. But how can indeterminism, a mere negative condition, enhance control? This worry has led many to conclude that the only viable form of libertarianism is agent-causal libertarianism. In this paper I show that this conclusion is premature. I explain how event-causal libertarianism secures more control than compatibilism by offering a novel argument for incompatibilism. Part of the reason my solution has gone unnoticed is that it is often mistakenly assumed that an agent's control is wholly exhausted by the agent's powers and abilities. I argue, however, that control is constituted not just by what we have the ability to do, but also by what we have the opportunity to do. And it is by furnishing agents with new opportunities that event-causal libertarianism secures enhanced control. In order to defend this claim, I provide an analysis of opportunities and construct a novel incompatibilist argument to show that the opportunity to do otherwise is incompatible with determinism

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Citations of this work

(In)compatibilism.Kristin M. Mickelson - 2023 - In Joe Campbell, Kristin M. Mickelson & V. Alan White (eds.), Wiley-Blackwell: A Companion to Free Will. Wiley. pp. 58-83.
Ability, Foreknowledge, and Explanatory Dependence.Philip Swenson - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):658-671.
Moral Responsibility Without General Ability.Taylor W. Cyr & Philip Swenson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):22-40.
A theory of the normative force of pleas.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):479-502.

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References found in this work

Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology.Daniel C. Dennett (ed.) - 1978 - Cambridge, Massachusetts: Bradford Books.
An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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