On the Top‑Down Argument for the Ability to Do Otherwise

Erkenntnis:1-14 (forthcoming)
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The Top-Down Argument for the ability to do otherwise aims at stablishing that humans can do otherwise in the sense that is relevant for debates about free will. It consists of two premises: first, we always need to answer the question of whether some phenomenon (such as the ability to do otherwise) exists by consulting our best scientific theories of the domain at issue. Second, our best scientific theories of human action presuppose that humans can do otherwise. This paper argues that this is not enough to establish the conclusion. The Top-Down Argument supports that humans can do otherwise in some sense. But it does not show that humans can do otherwise in the sense that is relevant for debates about free will. The paper then shows that the apparently best way to make the argument valid does not work.

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Leonhard Menges
University of Salzburg

Citations of this work

Determination from Above.Kenneth Silver - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):237-251.

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References found in this work

Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Why Free Will is Real.Christian List - 2019 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
An essay on free will.Peter van Inwagen & A. Phillips Griffiths - 1985 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 175 (4):557-558.
Fair Opportunity and Responsibility.David O. Brink - 2021 - Oxford University Press.

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