Authors
Geert Keil
Humboldt-University, Berlin
Abstract
This paper argues that Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) do not compromise the agent’s ability to decide otherwise. In his attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, Frankfurt relied on what Austin called the ‘all-in’ sense of ‘can’, and misconstrued the agent’s inability to do otherwise as an all-in can’t. Like the new dispositionalists, I maintain that the agent’s relevant abilities are ‘masked’ rather than lost in Frankfurt cases. The argument from masked abilities, however, is not confined to a compatibilist construal of the relevant abilities. On a libertarian construal, Black deprives Jones of the opportunity to use his two-way power of choice to a different outcome than he actually uses it. I argue that being deprived of this opportunity is immaterial to what free will requires. In the second half of the paper, I relate my approach to the ‘flicker of freedom’ strategy. On closer look, we do find a residual ability that Jones not only possesses but also exercises in cases where Black intervenes. I argue that Jones tries to decide otherwise in these cases, that Black only thwarts the success of Jones’s attempt, and that being snatched from the wheel at the very last moment does not compromise Jones’s free will.
Keywords Frankfurt-style counterexamples  Frankfurt cases  Dilemma defense  Flicker of freedom  New dispositionalism  Masked Abilities  Two-way power  Acting and refraining  Harry Frankfurt
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