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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. Compatibilism From the Inside Out.Andrew M. Bailey - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    In this article, I focus on internal dimensions of moral responsibility. I argue that if such dimensions are real -- and it seems they are -- then moral responsibility is compatible with determinism.
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  2. Semicompatibilism and Moral Responsibility for Actions and Omissions: In Defence of Symmetrical Requirements.Taylor W. Cyr - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):349-363.
    Although convinced by Frankfurt-style cases that moral responsibility does not require the ability to do otherwise, semicompatibilists have not wanted to accept a parallel claim about moral responsibility for omissions, and so they have accepted asymmetrical requirements on moral responsibility for actions and omissions. In previous work, I have presented a challenge to various attempts at defending this asymmetry. My view is that semicompatibilists should give up these defenses and instead adopt symmetrical requirements on moral responsibility for actions and omissions, (...)
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  3. Why Frankfurtian All-in Can’Ts Are Irrelevant to Free Will.Keil Geert - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64.
    This paper argues that Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) do not compromise the agent’s ability to decide otherwise. In his attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, Frankfurt relied on what Austin called the ‘all-in’ sense of ‘can’, and misconstrued the agent’s inability to do otherwise as an all-in can’t. Like the new dispositionalists, I maintain that the agent’s relevant abilities are ‘masked’ rather than lost in Frankfurt cases. The argument from masked abilities, however, is not confined to a compatibilist construal of (...)
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  4. Contextualizing Free Will.Romy Jaster - 2020 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 74 (2):187-204.
    Hawthorne toys with the view that ascriptions of free will are context-sensitive. But the way he formulates the view makes freedom contextualism look like a non-starter. I step into the breach for freedom contextualism. My aim is twofold. On the one hand, I argue that freedom contextualism can be motivated on the basis of our ordinary practice of freedom attribution is not ad hoc. The view explains data which cannot be accounted for by an ambiguity hypothesis. On the other hand, (...)
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  5. Flickers of Freedom and Moral Luck.Carolina Sartorio - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):93-105.
    Midwest Studies In Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  6. Causation and Free Will, Written by Carolina Sartorio. [REVIEW]Taylor W. Cyr - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (4):475-478.
  7. On Carolina Sartorio’s Causation and Free Will.Derk Pereboom - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1535-1543.
    In this article I review the core elements of Carolina Sartorio’s actual causal sequence account of free will and moral responsibility, and propose two revisions. First, I suggest replacing the contested notion of absence causation by the relatively uncontroversial notion of causal explanation by absences. Second, I propose retaining explanation by unreduced dispositions, of which Sartorio appears to be wary. I then set out a response to her critical treatment of manipulation arguments against compatibilism. Lastly, I point out that Sartorio’s (...)
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  8. Précis of Causation and Free Will.Carolina Sartorio - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1513-1516.
    This is a precis of my book Causation and Free Will. I go over the main features of my compatibilist account of free will, which is based on the actual causes of our behavior.
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  9. Fischer’s Deterministic Frankfurt-Style Argument.Yishai Cohen - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (1):121-140.
    According to the Dilemma Defense, it is question-begging against the incompatibilist defender of the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) to assume that the agent in a deterministic Frankfurt-style case (FSC) cannot do otherwise in light of causal determinism, but is nevertheless morally responsible. As a result, Fischer (Philos Rev 119:315–336, 2010; Analysis 73:489–496, 2013) attempts to undermine PAP in a different manner via a deterministic FSC. More specifically, Fischer attempts to show that if causal determinism rules out an agent’s moral (...)
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  10. Moral Responsibility for Actions and Omissions: A New Challenge to the Asymmetry Thesis.Taylor Cyr - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3153-3161.
    This paper presents a new challenge to the thesis that moral responsibility for an omission requires the ability to do the omitted action, whereas moral responsibility for an action does not require the ability to do otherwise than that action. Call this the asymmetry thesis. The challenge arises from the possibility of cases in which an omission is identical to an action. In certain of such cases, the asymmetry thesis leads to a contradiction. The challenge is then extended to recent (...)
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  11. Semicompatibilism: No Ability to Do Otherwise Required.Taylor W. Cyr - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (3):308-321.
    In this paper, I argue that it is open to semicompatibilists to maintain that no ability to do otherwise is required for moral responsibility. This is significant for two reasons. First, it undermines Christopher Evan Franklin’s recent claim that everyone thinks that an ability to do otherwise is necessary for free will and moral responsibility. Second, it reveals an important difference between John Martin Fischer’s semicompatibilism and Kadri Vihvelin’s version of classical compatibilism, which shows that the dispute between them is (...)
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  12. Is Semicompatibilism Unstable?Taylor W. Cyr - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (45):245-264.
    Recently, John Maier has developed a unified account of various agentive modalities. According to him, however, adopting the account provides an alternative framework for thinking about free will and moral responsibility, one that reveals an unacceptable instability in semicompatibilism. In this paper, I argue that Maier is mistaken about the implications of his account and sketch a semicompatibilist proposal that can, without countenancing any instability, accept Maier’s unified account of the agentive modalities.
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  13. Willensfreiheit.Geert Keil - 2017 - Berlin: De Gruyter.
    Das Buch verschafft einen Überblick über die neuere Willensfreiheitsdebatte, wobei es auch die Konsequenzen der Hirnforschung für das Freiheitsproblem erörtert. Ferner entwickelt der Autor eine eigene Position, die er 'fähigkeitsbasierten Libertarismus' nennt. Er widerspricht dem breiten philosophischen Konsens, dass jedenfalls eine Art von Freiheit mit einem naturwissenschaftlichen Weltbild unverträglich sei, nämlich die Fähigkeit, sich unter gegebenen Bedingungen so oder anders zu entscheiden. Im Buch wird argumentiert, dass der libertarischen Freiheitsauffassung, die wir im Alltag alle teilen, bei näherer Betrachtung keine Tatschen (...)
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  14. Free Will and Open Alternatives.Carlos J. Moya - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (45):167-191.
    In her recent book Causation and Free Will, Carolina Sartorio develops a distinctive version of an actual-sequence account of free will, according to which, when agents choose and act freely, their freedom is exclusively grounded in, and supervenes on, the actual causal history of such choices or actions. Against this proposal, I argue for an alternative- possibilities account, according to which agents’ freedom is partly grounded in their ability to choose or act otherwise. Actual-sequence accounts of freedom are motivated by (...)
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  15. Why Compatibilists Need Alternative Possibilities.Reid Blackman - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):529-544.
    Defenders of compatibilism occupy one of two camps: those who think that free will requires the ability to do otherwise, and those who deny this. Those compatibilists who think that free will requires the ability to do otherwise are interested in defending a reading of ‘can’ such that one can do otherwise even if determinism is true. By contrast, those compatibilists who think that free will does not require the ability to do otherwise tend to join incompatibilists in denying that (...)
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  16. Libertarianism and the Problem of Flip-Flopping.Fischer John Martin - 2016 - In Daniel Speak & Kevin Timpe (eds.), Free Will and Theism. Oxford: pp. 48-61.
    I am going to argue that it is a cost of libertarianism that it holds our status as agents hostage to theoretical physics, but that claim has met with disagreement. Some libertarians regard it as the cost of doing business, not a philosophical liability. By contrast, Peter van Inwagen has addressed the worry head on. He says that if he were to become convinced that causal determinism were true, he would not change his view that humans are free and morally (...)
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  17. Freedom of Preference: A Defense of Compatiblism.Keith Lehrer - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (1-3):35-46.
    Harry G. Frankfurt has presented a case of a counterfactual intervener CI with knowledge and power to control an agent so he will do A. He concludes that if the agent prefers to do A and there is no intervention by CI, the agent has acted of his own free will and is morally responsible for doing A, though he lacked an alternative possibility. I consider the consequences for freedom and moral responsibility of CI having a complete plan P for (...)
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  18. John Martin Fischer, Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will: New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 192 Pp, $65.00.Marina Oshana - 2016 - Journal of Value Inquiry 50 (3):667-672.
  19. Causation and Free Will.Carolina Sartorio - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Carolina Sartorio argues that only the actual causes of our behaviour matter to our freedom. The key, she claims, lies in a correct understanding of the role played by causation in a view of that kind. Causation has some important features that make it a responsibility-grounding relation, and this contributes to the success of the view. Also, when agents act freely, the actual causes are richer than they appear to be at first sight; in particular, they reflect the agents' sensitivity (...)
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  20. A Partial Defense of the Actual-Sequence Model of Freedom.Carolina Sartorio - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (1-3):107-120.
    Over the years, two models of freedom have emerged as competitors: the alternative-possibilities model and the actual-sequence model. This paper is a partial defense of the actual-sequence model. My defense relies on two strategies. The first strategy consists in de-emphasizing the role of examples in arguing for a model of freedom. Imagine that, as some people think, Frankfurt-style cases fail to undermine the alternative-possibilities model. What follows from this? Not much, I argue. In particular, I note that the counterparts of (...)
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  21. A Pilgrimage Through John Martin Fischer’s Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value.Hannah Tierney - 2016 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 10 (1):179-196.
    John Martin Fischer’s most recent collection of essays, Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value, is both incredibly wide-ranging and impressively detailed. Fischer manages to cover a staggering amount of ground in the free will debate, while also providing insightful and articulate analyses of many of the positions defended in the field. In this collection, Fischer focuses on the relationship between free will and moral responsibility. In the first section of his book, Fischer defends Frankfurt cases as an important (...)
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  22. Free Will, Narrative, and Retroactive Self-Constitution.Roman Altshuler - 2015 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (4):867-883.
    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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  23. The Elusiveness of Doxastic Compatibilism.Benjamin Bayer - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (3):233-252.
    This paper evaluates recent proposals for compatibilism about doxastic freedom, and attempts to refine them by applying Fischer and Ravizza’s moderate reasons-responsiveness compatibilism to doxastic freedom. I argue, however, that even this refined version of doxastic compatibilism is subject to challenging counter-examples and is more difficult to support than traditional compatibilism about freedom of action. In particular, it is much more difficult to identify convincing examples of the sort Frankfurt proposed to challenge the idea that responsibility requires alternative possibilities.
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  24. Building a Better Theory of Responsibility.Victoria McGeer - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2635-2649.
    In Building Better Beings, Vargas develops and defends a naturalistic account of responsibility, whereby responsible agents must possess a feasibly situated capacity to detect and respond to moral considerations. As a preliminary step, he also offers a substantive account of how we might justify our practices of holding responsible—viz., by appeal to their efficacy in fostering a ‘valuable form of agency’ across the community at large, a form of agency that precisely encompasses sensitivity to moral considerations. But how do these (...)
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  25. Strawson Contra Strawson: Moral Responsibility and Semi‐Compatibilism.Melvin Chen - 2014 - 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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  26. Die Möglichkeit Eines Anderen Rechts: Zur Auseinandersetzung MIT Andreas Fischer-Lescano.Christoph Menke - 2014 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 62 (1):136-143.
    In his critical review of Recht und Gewalt Andreas Fischer-Lescano has suggested that the critical insight into the paradoxical entwinement of law and violence should lead towards the utopian idea of a “transcendence” of law. The response to Fischer-Lescano rejects this idea as a false leveling of the - decisive normative - difference between law and society. This difference is the condition of possibility of law’s critical and hence transformative relation to society. The response thus defends the idea, brought forward (...)
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  27. Responses to John Martin Fischer and Dana Nelkin. [REVIEW]Derk Pereboom - 2014 - Science, Religion and Culture 1 (3):218.
    I first want to thank John Fischer for his generous appraisal of the book, and for his astute and challenging comments on my treatment of the manipulation argument in Chapter 4. Fischer’s core strategy for resisting this argument is a soft-line reply. Soft-liners claim that in some manipulation cases the agent is not morally responsible, and in others he is. A corollary of the soft-line reply is that there is a plausible compatibilist condition on moral responsibility that has not been (...)
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  28. Commentary on the Discussion Paper of Marilyn Fischer, "Addams on Cultural Pluralism, European Immigrants, and African Americans". Seigfried - 2014 - The Pluralist 9 (3):59-65.
    with her usual concern with accuracy and clarity, Marilyn Fischer’s explanations are exemplary models of the value of historical scholarship. Concern with context in its many forms is integral to pragmatist philosophy, but the range and depth of Fischer’s research make her papers especially valuable. She helps us understand the extent to which the horizon of understanding is bounded by the particularities of time and place. Careful elucidation of less familiar concrete horizons can give us a better understanding of unfamiliar (...)
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  29. Review of J. M. Fischer's Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value. [REVIEW]Seth Shabo - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (4):523-526.
  30. Reason’s Debt to Freedom: Normative Appraisals, Reasons, and Free Will. [REVIEW]Jim Slagle - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (1):142-144.
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  31. Vargas, Manuel. Building Better Beings: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. 345. $55.00. [REVIEW]Kevin Timpe - 2014 - Ethics 124 (4):926-931.
  32. Revising Reasons Reactivity: Weakly and Strongly Sufficient Reasons for Acting.Robyn Repko Waller - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (3):529-543.
    In Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza propose an account of moral responsibility according to which an agent is morally responsible for an action just when that action is the product of her own moderately reasons-responsive mechanism, where reasons-responsiveness is explained in terms of the mechanism’s regular reasons-receptivity and weak reasons-reactivity. In a review of Fischer and Ravizza’s book Mele contends that their weakly reasons-reactivity condition is inadequate, constructing a case in which, (...)
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  33. Reasons-Responsiveness and Degrees of Responsibility.D. Justin Coates & Philip Swenson - 2013 - 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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  34. Fischer-Style Compatibilism.Michael Garnett - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):387-397.
    This is a critical review essay on John Martin Fischer's Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value.
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  35. Free Will and Moral Responsibility.Ishtiyaque Haji & Justin Caouette (eds.) - 2013 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
    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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  36. Introduction: Mapping the Terrain.Ishtiyaque Haji & Justin Caouette - 2013 - In Ishtiyaque Haji & Justin Caouette (eds.), Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 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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  37. Debata Trendelenburg – Fischer. Problem obiektywności Kantowskich form zmysłowości.Andrzej J. Noras - 2013 - Przeglad Filozoficzny - Nowa Seria 85 (1):267-297.
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  38. Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value. By John Martin Fischer.Brendan Palla - 2013 - International Philosophical Quarterly 53 (3):342-344.
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  39. John Martin Fischer , Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value . Reviewed By.Christian Perring - 2013 - Philosophy in Review 33 (6):458-460.
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  40. Blame, Desert and Compatibilist Capacity: A Diachronic Account of Moderateness in Regards to Reasons-Responsiveness.Nicole A. Vincent - 2013 - Philosophical Explorations 16 (2):1-17.
    This paper argues that John Fischer and Mark Ravizza's compatibilist theory of moral responsibility cannot justify reactive attitudes like blame and desert-based practices like retributive punishment. The problem with their account, I argue, is that their analysis of moderateness in regards to reasons-responsiveness has the wrong normative features. However, I propose an alternative account of what it means for a mechanism to be moderately reasons-responsive which addresses this deficiency. In a nut shell, while Fischer and Ravizza test for moderate reasons-responsiveness (...)
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  41. John Martin Fischer, Deep Control. Essays on Free Will and Value.Sofia Bonicalzi - 2012 - Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 67 (3):643.
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  42. Precis, Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will. [REVIEW]John Martin Fischer - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (3):503-506.
  43. Semicompatibilism and Its Rivals.John Martin Fischer - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (2):117-143.
    In this paper I give an overview of my “framework for moral responsibility,” and I offer some reasons that commend it. I contrast my approach with indeterministic models of moral responsibility and also other compatibilist strategies, including those of Harry Frankfurt and Gary Watson.
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  44. Deep Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer - 2012 - Oup Usa.
    Fischer here defends the contention that moral responsibility is associated with "deep control", which is "in-between" two untenable extreme positions: "superficial control" and "total control". He defends this "middle way" against the proponents of more--and less--robust notions of the freedom required for moral responsibility. Fischer offers a new solution to the Luck Problem, as well as providing a defense of the compatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility.
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  45. Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and Value.John Martin Fischer - 2012 - Oup Usa.
    Fischer here defends the contention that moral responsibility is associated with "deep control", which is "in-between" two untenable extreme positions: "superficial control" and "total control". He defends this "middle way" against the proponents of more--and less--robust notions of the freedom required for moral responsibility. Fischer offers a new solution to the Luck Problem, as well as providing a defense of the compatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility.
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  46. Moral Responsibility, Manipulation Arguments, and History: Assessing the Resilience of Nonhistorical Compatibilism. [REVIEW]Michael McKenna - 2012 - The 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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  47. On Fischer’s Our Stories. [REVIEW]Derk Pereboom - 2012 - 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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  48. Moral Responsibility and Motivational Mechanisms.James D. Steadman - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):473 - 492.
    This paper provides a discussion and defense of a recent formulation of the idea that moral responsibility for actions depends on the capacity to respond to reasons. This formulation appears in several publications by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, where the authors argue that moral responsibility involves a kind of control over one's actions which they call "guidance control." This kind of control does not require an agent's ability to do something different from what he actually does, but instead (...)
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  49. Comments on John Martin Fischer’s Our Stories. [REVIEW]J. David Velleman - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (3):515-521.
    I comment on the three main themes in Our Stories: the harm of death, the narrative structure of life, and the value of immortality. I begin with a subsidiary theme, namely, the use of narrative examples in philosophy.
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  50. Thomas Bedorf/Joachim Fischer/Gesa Lindemann (Hgg.), Theorien des Dritten. Innovationen in Soziologie und Sozialphilosophie.Susan Gottlöber - 2011 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 118 (2):421.
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