Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1225-1240 (2016)

Sofia M.I. Jeppsson
Umeå University
It has been argued that in a deterministic universe, no one has any reason to do anything. Since we ought to do what we have most reason to do, no one ought to do anything either. Firstly, it is argued that an agent cannot have reason to do anything unless she can do otherwise; secondly, that the relevant ‘can’ is incompatibilist. In this paper, I argue that even if the first step of the argument for reason incompatibilism succeeds, the second one does not. It is argued that reasons require alternative possibilities, because reasons are action-guiding. A supposed reason to do the impossible, or to do what was inevitable anyway, could not fill this function. I discuss different interpretations of the claim that reasons are action-guiding, and show that according to one interpretation it is sufficient that the agent believes that she has several alternative options. According to other interpretations, the agent must really have alternative options, but only in a compatibilist sense. I suggest that an interpretation of action-guidance according to which reasons can only guide actions when we have several options open to us in an incompatibilist sense cannot be found. We should therefore assume that reasons and obligations are compatible with determinism.
Keywords Compatibilism  Incompatibilism  Objective reasons  ‘ought’ implies ‘can’  The ability to do otherwise  Determinism
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-016-9721-x
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References found in this work BETA

Living Without Free Will.Derk Pereboom - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
I Ought, Therefore I Can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.
Living Without Free Will.Derk Pereboom - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):308-310.

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Citations of this work BETA

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Irrational Option Exclusion.Sofia Jeppsson - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):537-551.

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