‘Brain-Malfunction’ Cases and the Dispositionalist Reply to Frankfurt's Attack on PAP

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):646-657 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Harry Frankfurt has famously argued against the principle of alternate possibilities by presenting a case in which, apparently, a person is morally responsible for what he has done even though he could not have done otherwise. A number of commentators have proposed dispositionalist responses to Frankfurt, arguing that he has not produced a counterexample to PAP because, contrary to appearances, the ability to do otherwise is indeed present but is a disposition that has been ‘masked’ or ‘finked’ by the presence of a counterfactual controller. This article argues that this response to Frankfurt does not undercut his attack on PAP, since there are Frankfurt-style counterexamples to the principle—‘brain-malfunction’ cases—that evade the dispositionalist analysis.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,283

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Actions, thought-experiments and the 'principle of alternate possibilities'.Maria Alvarez - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):61 – 81.
Countering Cova: Frankfurt-Style Cases are Still Broken.Neil Levy - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (3):523-527.
Deterministic Frankfurt cases.David Palmer - 2014 - Synthese 191 (16):3847-3864.
Frankfurt cases and overdetermination.Eric Funkhouser - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):pp. 341-369.
Three Recent Frankfurt Cases.Robert Lockie - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (4):1005-1032.
Rescuing PAP from Widerker's Brain-Malfunction Case.Greg Janzen - 2015 - Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 3 (2):1-22.
Avoiding and Alternate Possibilities.Ezio Di Nucci - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (5):1001-1007.
The impertinence of Frankfurt-style argument.Daniel James Speak - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (226):76-95.


Added to PP

102 (#172,107)

6 months
7 (#439,668)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Greg Janzen
University of Calgary

Citations of this work

Alternate Possibilities and Moral Asymmetry.Daniel Avi Coren - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (2):145-159.

Add more citations

References found in this work

An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.
Finkish dispositions.David Kellogg Lewis - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):143-158.
Dispositions and conditionals.C. B. Martin - 1994 - Philosophical Quarterly 44 (174):1-8.

View all 40 references / Add more references