Seth Shabo University of Delaware
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  • Faculty, University of Delaware
  • PhD, Syracuse University, 2004.

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About me
I'm currently an associate professor at the University of Delaware. My main research is on free will and moral responsibility, including related topics in metaphysics, normative ethics, and moral psychology. I'm also interested in early modern philosophy, especially Hume.
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18 items found.
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  1. Seth Shabo (forthcoming). More Trouble With Tracing. Erkenntnis.
    Theories of moral responsibility rely on tracing principles to account for derivative moral responsibility. Manuel Vargas has argued that such principles are problematic. To show this, he presents cases where individuals are derivatively blameworthy for their conduct, but where there is no suitable earlier time to which their blameworthiness can be traced back. John Martin Fischer and Neal Tognazzini have sought to resolve this problem by arguing that blameworthiness in these scenarios can be traced back, given the right descriptions of (...)
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  2. Seth Shabo (2014). Assimilations and Rollbacks: Two Arguments Against Libertarianism Defended. Philosophia 42 (1):151-172.
    The Assimilation Argument purports to show that libertarians cannot plausibly distinguish supposed exercises of free will from random outcomes that nobody would count as exercises of free will. If this argument is sound, libertarians should either abandon their position or else concede that free will is a mystery. Drawing on a parallel with the Manipulation Argument against compatibilism, Christopher Franklin has recently contended that the Assimilation Argument is unsound. Here I defend the Assimilation Argument and the Rollback Argument, a second (...)
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  3. Seth Shabo (2014). It Wasn't Up to Jones: Unavoidable Actions and Intensional Contexts in Frankfurt Examples. Philosophical Studies 169 (3):379-399.
    In saying that it was up to someone whether or not she acted as she did, we are attributing a distinctive sort of power to her. Understanding such power attributions is of broad importance for contemporary discussions of free will. Yet the ‘is up to…whether’ locution and its cognates have largely escaped close examination. This article aims to elucidate one of its unnoticed features, namely that such power attributions introduce intensional contexts, something that is easily overlooked because the sentences that (...)
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  4. Seth Shabo (2014). Review of J. M. Fischer's Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value. [REVIEW] Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (4):523-526.
  5. David Hunt & Seth Shabo (2013). Frankfurt Cases and the (in)Significance of Timing: A Defense of the Buffering Strategy. Philosophical Studies 164 (3):599-622.
    Frankfurt cases are purported counterexamples to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, which implies that we are not morally responsible for unavoidable actions. A major permutation of the counterexample strategy features buffered alternatives; this permutation is designed to overcome an influential defense of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities. Here we defend the buffering strategy against two recent objections, both of which stress the timing of an agent’s decision. We argue that attributions of moral responsibility aren’t time-sensitive in the way the objectors (...)
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  6. Seth Shabo (2013). Free Will and Mystery: Looking Past the Mind Argument. Philosophical Studies 162 (2):291-307.
    Among challenges to libertarians, the _Mind_ Argument has loomed large. Believing that this challenge cannot be met, Peter van Inwagen, a libertarian, concludes that free will is a mystery. Recently, the _Mind_ Argument has drawn a number of criticisms. Here I seek to add to its woes. Quite apart from its other problems, I argue, the _Mind_ Argument does a poor job of isolating the important concern for libertarians that it raises. Once this concern has been clarified, however, another argument (...)
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  7. Seth Shabo (2012). Compatibilism and Moral Claimancy: An Intermediate Path to Appropriate Blame. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):158-186.
    In this paper, I explore a new approach to the problem of determinism and moral responsibility. This approach involves asking when someone has a compelling claim to exemption against other members of the moral community. I argue that it is sometimes fair to reject such claims, even when the agent doesn’t deserve, in the sense of basic desert, to be blamed for her conduct. In particular, when an agent’s conduct reveals that her commitment to comply with the standards of the (...)
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  8. Seth Shabo (2012). Incompatibilism and Personal Relationships: Another Look at Strawson's Objective Attitude. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):131 - 147.
    In the context of his highly influential defence of compatibilism, P. F. Strawson 1962 introduced the terms "reactive attitude" and "objective attitude" to the free-will lexicon. He argued, in effect, that relinquishing such reactive attitudes as resentment and moral indignation isn't a real possibility for us, since doing so would commit us to exclusive objectivity, a stance incompatible with ordinary interpersonal relationships. While most commentators have challenged Strawson's link between personal relationships and the reactive attitudes, Tamler Sommers 2007 has taken (...)
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  9. Seth Shabo (2012). Where Love and Resentment Meet: Strawson's Intrapersonal Defense of Compatibilism. Philosophical Review 121 (1):95-124.
    In his seminal essay “Freedom and Resentment,” Strawson drew attention to the role of such emotions as resentment, moral indignation, and guilt in our moral and personal lives. According to Strawson, these reactive attitudes are at once constitutive of moral blame and inseparable from ordinary interpersonal relationships. On this basis, he concluded that relinquishing moral blame isn’t a real possibility for us, given our commitment to personal relationships. If well founded, this conclusion puts the traditional free-will debate in a new (...)
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  10. Seth Shabo (2011). Agency Without Avoidability: Defusing a New Threat to Frankfurt's Counterexample Strategy. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (4):505-522.
    In this paper, I examine a new line of response to Frankfurt’s challenge to the traditional association of moral responsibility with the ability to do otherwise. According to this response, Frankfurt’s counterexample strategy fails, not in light of the conditions for moral responsibility per se, but in view of the conditions for action. Specifically, it is claimed, a piece of behavior counts as an action only if it is within the agent’s power to avoid performing it. In so far as (...)
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  11. Seth Shabo (2011). Why Free Will Remains a Mystery. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (1):105-125.
    Peter van Inwagen contends that free will is a mystery. Here I present an argument in the spirit of van Inwagen's. According to the Assimilation Argument, libertarians cannot plausibly distinguish causally undetermined actions, the ones they take to be exercises of free will, from overtly randomized outcomes of the sort nobody would count as exercises of free will. I contend that the Assimilation Argument improves on related arguments in locating the crucial issues between van Inwagen and libertarians who hope to (...)
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  12. Seth Shabo (2011). What Must a Proof of Incompatibilism Prove? Philosophical Studies 154 (3):361-371.
    Peter van Inwagen has developed two highly influential strategies for establishing incompatibilism about causal determinism and moral responsibility. These have come to be known as ‘the Direct Argument’ and ‘the Indirect Argument,’ respectively. In recent years, the two arguments have attracted closely related criticisms. In each case, it is claimed, the argument does not provide a fully general defense of the incompatibilist’s conclusion. While the critics are right to notice these arguments’ limitations, they have not made it clear what the (...)
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  13. Seth Shabo (2010). Against Logical Versions of the Direct Argument: A New Counterexample. American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (3):239-252.
    Here I motivate and defend a new counterexample to logical (or non-causal) versions of the direct argument for responsibility-determinism incompatibilism. Such versions purport to establish incompatibilism via an inference principle to the effect that non-responsibility transfers along relations of logical consequence, including those that hold between earlier and later states of a deterministic world. Unlike previous counterexamples, this case doesn't depend on preemptive overdetermination; nor can it be blocked with a simple modification of the inference principle. In defending this counterexample, (...)
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  14. Seth Shabo (2010). The Fate of the Direct Argument and the Case for Incompatibilism. Philosophical Studies 150 (3):405-424.
    In this paper, I distinguish causal from logical versions of the direct argument for incompatibilism. I argue that, contrary to appearances, causal versions are better equipped to withstand an important recent challenge to the direct-argument strategy. The challenge involves arguing that support for the argument’s pivotal inference principle falls short just when it is needed most, namely when a deterministic series runs through an agent’s unimpaired deliberations. I then argue that, while there are limits to what causal versions can accomplish, (...)
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  15. Seth Shabo (2010). Uncompromising Source Incompatibilism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (2):349-383.
    ...I defend the uncompromising position against both Kane’s compromise source position and the traditional, “leeway” view. In sections 1 and 2, I take up Kane’s argument that uncompromising source incompatibilists go too far in their rejection of avoidability. In seeing where this argument goes wrong, we will also see why the compromise position is untenable…With the field thus narrowed, I turn to the leeway camp. Here the source incompatibilist’s task is to show that the ultimacy rationale for incompatibilism holds its (...)
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  16. Seth Shabo (2007). Flickers of Freedom and Modes of Action: A Reply to Timpe. Philosophia 35 (1):63-74.
    In recent years, many incompatibilists have come to reject the traditional association of moral responsibility with alternative possibilities. Kevin Timpe argues that one such incompatibilist, Eleonore Stump, ultimately fails in her bid to sever this link. While she may have succeeded in dissociating responsibility from the freedom to perform a different action, he argues, she ends up reinforcing a related link, between responsibility and the freedom to act under a different mode. In this paper, I argue that Timpe’s response to (...)
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  17. Seth Shabo (2007). Review of J. M. Fischer's My Way. [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 41 (3):353-357.
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  18. Seth Shabo (2005). Fischer and Ravizza on History and Ownership. Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):103-114.
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