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Summary Semi-compatibilism is a view about moral responsibility developed by John Martin Fischer, alone and together with Mark Ravizza. Semi-compatibilism combines agnosticism about the compatibility of free will and determinism with compatibilism about moral responsibility: determinism is no threat to moral responsibility whether or not it threatens free will. Fischer's agnosticism about free will is a product of his reading of debates over the consequence argument, but he maintains that the sense of free will at issue in that debate is not required for moral responsibility. Fischer's work on Frankfurt-style cases develops an alternative basis for the attribution of moral responsibility.
Key works The central work setting out the case for semi-compatibilism is Fischer & Ravizza 1998. Fischer's important work on the consequence argument is best reflected in Fischer 1994. Since the Frankfurt-style cases play such an important role in motivating semi-compatibilism, criticism of the view has often turned on arguments that the cases do not establish the falsity of the principle of alternative possibilities. See especially Widerker 1995 and Speak 2002.
Introductions Fischer 1999;Fischer 2002;
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  1. Gan Hun Ahn (2008). An Analysis of Semi-Compatibilism. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 15:7-12.
    Semi-compatibilists intend to reconcile moral responsibility with causal determinism, even if determinism is incompatible with freedom to do otherwise. For them, moral responsibility does not require free will, which is not a necessary condition for moral responsibility. They agree with the view that causal determinism is incompatible with free will. Free will is incompatible with determinism as well as moral responsibility. Both compatibilists and semi-compatibilists argue for the compatibility between determinism and moral responsibility. However, the latter fails to prove sufficiently (...)
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  2. Roman Altshuler (forthcoming). Free Will, Narrative, and Retroactive Self-Constitution. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17.
    John Fischer has recently argued that the value of acting freely is the value of self-expression. Drawing on David Velleman’s earlier work, Fischer holds that the value of a life is a narrative value and free will is valuable insofar as it allows us to shape the narrative structure of our lives. This account rests on Fischer’s distinction between regulative control and guidance control. While we lack the former kind of control, on Fischer’s view, the latter is all that is (...)
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  3. Benjamin Bayer, The Elusiveness of Doxastic Compatibilism.
    While many have explored the question of whether the concept moral responsibility can be made compatible with the prospect of determinism, few have applied compatibilist proposals to the concept of epistemic responsibility and its associated notion of doxastic freedom. This paper evaluates a few recent proposals for doxastic compatibilism that have emerged in recent years, and attempts to refine them for the sake of further evaluation. In particular I evaluate a version of Fischer and Ravizza's moderate reasons-responsiveness compatibilism as applied (...)
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  4. Sarah Buss (1997). Review of John Fischer's Metaphysics of Free Will. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 38 (2):117-121.
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  5. Melvin Chen (2014). Strawson Contra Strawson: Moral Responsibility and Semi‐Compatibilism. Philosophical Forum 45 (1):1-15.
    This paper addresses the Basic Argument in favour of incompatibilism, both in its Strawsonian form and in its weakened form (the CDA). After examining the worries raised by this argument, I will defend a version of semi-compatibilism that is motivated by a narrative theory of the self, arguing that moral responsibility is possible even if the thesis of determinism is taken to be incompatible with the thesis of freedom of will. The semi-compatibilist argument that I provide lowers the standard of (...)
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  6. Randolph Clarke (2010). Determinism and Our Self-Conception. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):242-250.
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  7. Randolph Clarke (1997). The Metaphysics of Free Will. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 106 (3):450-453.
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  8. D. Justin Coates & Philip Swenson (2013). Reasons-Responsiveness and Degrees of Responsibility. Philosophical Studies 165 (2):629-645.
    Ordinarily, we take moral responsibility to come in degrees. Despite this commonplace, theories of moral responsibility have focused on the minimum threshold conditions under which agents are morally responsible. But this cannot account for our practices of holding agents to be more or less responsible. In this paper we remedy this omission. More specifically, we extend an account of reasons-responsiveness due to John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza according to which an agent is morally responsible only if she is appropriately (...)
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  9. Michael Della Rocca (1998). Frankfurt, Fischer and Flickers. Noûs 32 (1):99-105.
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  10. John Martin Fischer (2012). Deep Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility. OUP USA.
    In this collection of essays -- a follow up to My Way and Our Stories -- John Martin Fischer defends the contention that moral responsibility is associated with "deep control". Fischer defines deep control as the middle ground between two untenable extreme positions: "superficial control" and "total control". -/- Our freedom consists of the power to add to the given past, holding fixed the laws of nature, and therefore, Fischer contends, we must be able to interpret our actions as extensions (...)
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  11. John Martin Fischer (2009). Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will. Oxford University Press.
    Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, eds., (...)
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  12. John Martin Fischer (2006). My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility. Oxford University Press.
    This is a selection of essays on moral responsibility that represent the major components of John Martin Fischer's overall approach to freedom of the will and moral responsibility. The collection exhibits the overall structure of Fischer's view and shows how the various elements fit together to form a comprehensive framework for analyzing free will and moral responsibility. The topics include deliberation and practical reasoning, freedom of the will, freedom of action, various notions of control, and moral accountability. The essays seek (...)
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  13. John Martin Fischer (2006). The Free Will Revolution (Continued). Journal of Ethics 10 (3):315-345.
    I seek to reply to the thoughtful and penetrating comments by William Rowe, Alfred Mele, Carl Ginet, and Ishtiyaque Haji. In the process, I hope that my overall approach to free will and moral responsibility is thrown into clearer relief. I make some suggestions as to future directions of research in these areas.
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  14. John Martin Fischer (2005). Reply: The Free Will Revolution. Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):145 – 156.
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  15. John Martin Fischer (2004). Free Will and Moral Responsibility. In D. Copps (ed.), Handbook on Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press.
    Much has been written recently about free will and moral responsibility. In this paper I will focus on the relationship between free will, on the one hand, and various notions that fall under the rubric of “morality,” broadly construed, on the other: deliberation and practical reasoning, moral responsibility, and ethical notions such as “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” I shall begin by laying out a natural understanding of freedom of the will. Next I develop some challenges to the common-sense (...)
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  16. John Martin Fischer (2002). Frankfurt-Type Examples and Semi-Compatibilism. In Robert H. Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. Oxford University Press.
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  17. John Martin Fischer (2000). Chicken Soup for the Semi-Compatibilist Soul: Replies to Haji and Kane. Journal of Ethics 4 (4):404-407.
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  18. John Martin Fischer (1998). The Metaphysics of Free Will: A Reply to My Critics. Journal of Social Philosophy 29 (2):157-167.
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  19. John Martin Fischer (1994). The Metaphysics of Free Will: A Study of Control. Blackwell.
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  20. John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (1998). Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility. Cambridge University Press.
    This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors go on (...)
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  21. John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza (1998). Morally Responsible People Without Freedom. In Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    In this brief concluding chapter we first wish to present the overall argument of the book in a concise, nontechnical way. We hope this will provide a clear view of the argument. We shall then point to some of the distinctive--and attractive--features of our approach. Finally, we shall offer some preliminary thoughts about extending the account of moral responsibility to apply to emotions.
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  22. Christopher Evan Franklin (2006). Plausibility, Manipulation, and Fischer and Ravizza. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):173-192.
    The manipulation argument poses a significant challenge for any adequate compatibilist theory of agency. The argument maintains that there is no relevant difference between actions or pro-attitudes that are induced by nefarious neurosurgeons, God, or (and this is the important point) natural causes. Therefore, if manipulation is thought to undermine moral responsibility, then so also ought causal determinism. In this paper, I will attempt to bolster the plausibility of John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza’s semicompatibilist theory of moral responsibility by (...)
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  23. M. Garnett (2013). Fischer-Style Compatibilism. Analysis 73 (2):387-397.
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  24. Carl Ginet (1998). John Fischer, The Metaphysics of Free Will. Journal of Social Philosophy 29 (2):126-134.
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  25. W. Glannon (1999). Responsibility and Control: Fischer's and Ravizza's Theory of Moral Responsibility. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 18 (2):187-213.
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  26. Walter Glannon (1997). Semicompatibilism and Anomalous Monism. Philosophical Papers 26 (3):211-231.
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  27. Ishtiyaque Haji (2011). On the Reason View of Freedom and Semi-Compatibilism. Acta Analytica 26 (4):343-353.
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  28. Ishtiyaque Haji (2005). Introduction: Semi-Compatibilism, Reasons-Responsiveness, and Ownership. Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):91 – 93.
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  29. Ishtiyaque Haji & Justin Caouette (eds.) (2013). Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    Determinism is, roughly, the thesis that facts about the past and the laws of nature entail all truths. A venerable, age-old dilemma concerning responsibility distils to this: if either determinism is true or it is not true, we lack "responsibility-grounding" control. Either determinism is true or it is not true. So, we lack responsibility-grounding control. Deprived of such control, no one is ever morally responsible for anything. A number of the freshly-minted essays in this collection address aspects of this dilemma. (...)
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  30. Ishtiyaque Haji & Justin Caouette (2013). Introduction: Mapping the Terrain. In Ishtiyaque Haji & Justin Caouette (eds.), Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Cambridge Scholars Press. 1-25.
    Determinism is, roughly, the thesis that facts about the past and the laws of nature entail all truths. A venerable, age-old dilemma concerning responsibility distils to this: if either determinism is true or it is not true, we lack "responsibility-grounding" control. Either determinism is true or it is not true. So, we lack responsibility-grounding control. Deprived of such control, no one is ever morally responsible for anything. A number of the freshly-minted essays in this collection address aspects of this dilemma. (...)
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  31. Pamela Hieronymi (2011). Making a Difference. Social Theory and Practice 37 (1):81-94.
    I suggest that Fischer concedes too much to the consequence argument when he grants that we may not make a difference. I provide a broad sketch of (my take on) the dispute between compatibilists and incompatibilists, while suggesting that some of the discussion may have confused the freedom required for moral responsibility with a very different notion of autonomy. I introduce that less usual notion of autonomy and suggest that those who are autonomous, in this sense, do make a difference.
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  32. David Hodgson (2009). Review of John Martin Fischer, Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (9).
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  33. Peter Inwagen (1997). Fischer on Moral Responsibility. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188):373 - 381.
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  34. Neal Judisch (2005). Responsibility, Manipulation and Ownership: Reflections on the Fischer/Ravizza Program. Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):115-130.
    John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza have constructed a theory of moral responsibility according to which agents are responsible only if they take responsibility in a particular way. Crucial to taking responsibility is coming to adopt a certain set of beliefs about oneself, such as the belief that one is a legitimate target of attitudes like gratitude and resentment, praise and blame. Moreover, agents must come to adopt this belief in a way that is 'appropriately based' upon their evidence, if (...)
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  35. Robert H. Kane (ed.) (2002). The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. Oxford University Press.
    This comprehensive reference provides an exhaustive guide to current scholarship on the perennial problem of Free Will--perhaps the most hotly and voluminously debated of all philosophical problems. While reference is made throughout to the contributions of major thinkers of the past, the emphasis is on recent research. The essays, most of which are previously unpublished, combine the work of established scholars with younger thinkers who are beginning to make significant contributions. Taken as a whole, the Handbook provides an engaging and (...)
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  36. Robert H. Kane (2000). Responses to Bernard Berofsky, John Martin Fischer and Galen Strawson. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):157-167.
  37. Neil Levy (2007). Agents and Mechanisms: Fischer's Way. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 57 (226):123–130.
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  38. Neil Levy (2002). Excusing Responsibility for the Inevitable. Philosophical Studies 111 (1):43 - 52.
    It is by now well established that the fact that an action or aconsequence was inevitable does not excuse the agent from responsibilityfor it, so long as the counterfactual intervention which ensures thatthe act will take place is not actualized. However, in this paper I demonstrate that there is one exception to this principle: when theagent is aware of the counterfactual intervener and the role she wouldplay in some alternative scenario, she might be excused, despite the fact that in the (...)
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  39. Michael McKenna (2012). Moral Responsibility, Manipulation Arguments, and History: Assessing the Resilience of Nonhistorical Compatibilism. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 16 (2):145-174.
    Manipulation arguments for incompatibilism all build upon some example or other in which an agent is covertly manipulated into acquiring a psychic structure on the basis of which she performs an action. The featured agent, it is alleged, is manipulated into satisfying conditions compatibilists would take to be sufficient for acting freely. Such an example used in the context of an argument for incompatibilism is meant to elicit the intuition that, due to the pervasiveness of the manipulation, the agent does (...)
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  40. Michael McKenna (2008). Saying Good-Bye to the Direct Argument the Right Way. Philosophical Review 117 (3):349-383.
    Peter van Inwagen contends that nonresponsibility transfers across deterministic relations. Suppose it does. If the facts of the past and the laws of nature entail every truth about what one does, and no one is even in part morally responsible for the past and the laws, then no one is even in part morally responsible for what one does. This argument, the Direct Argument, has drawn various critics, who have attempted to produce counterexamples to its core inference principle. This article (...)
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  41. Michael S. McKenna (2005). Reasons Reactivity and Incompatibilist Intuitions. Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):131-143.
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  42. Alfred Mele (2011). Moral Responsibility for Actions: Epistemic and Freedom Conditions. Philosophical Explorations 13 (2):101-111.
    Two questions guide this article. First, according to Fischer and Ravizza (jointly and otherwise), what epistemic requirements for being morally responsible for performing an action A are not also requirements for freely performing A? Second, how much progress have they made on this front? The article's main moral is for philosophers who believe that there are epistemic requirements for being morally responsible for A-ing that are not requirements for freely A-ing because they assume that Fischer (on his own or otherwise) (...)
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  43. Jason S. Miller (2010). Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will by John Martin Fischer. Analysis 70 (1):196-198.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
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  44. Michael Nelson (2011). Default Compatibilism and Narrativity. Social Theory and Practice 37 (1):35-45.
    I discuss two claims defended in Fischer’s recent work. The first is the default status of compatibilism. This is part of a conception of our agency and moral responsibility as being independent of the truth or the falsity of the thesis of determinism. I try to further bolster Fischer’s arguments in favor of this position. The second is Fischer’s defense of the narrative conception of moral responsibility, according to which the value of self-expression supports and explicates the value of being (...)
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  45. Derk Pereboom (2012). On Fischer's Our Stories. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 158 (3):523-528.
    On Fischer’s Our Stories Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9670-5 Authors Derk Pereboom, Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University, 218 Goldwin Smith Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
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  46. Derk Pereboom (2007). John Martin Fischer, My Way:My Way. Ethics 117 (4):754-757.
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  47. Derk Pereboom (2007). Book Review. My Way. John Martin Fischer. [REVIEW] Ethics 117 (4):754-57.
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  48. Nelson Pike (1984). Fischer on Freedom and Foreknowledge. Philosophical Review 93 (October):599-614.
  49. C. P. Ragland (2011). Softening Fischer's Hard Compatibilism. Modern Schoolman 88 (1/2):51-71.
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  50. Mark Ravizza (1994). Semi-Compatibilism and the Transfer of Non-Responsibility. Philosophical Studies 75 (1-2):61-93.
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