Philosophical Issues

ISSN: 1533-6077

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  1. “Free will” is vague.Santiago Amaya - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):7-21.
    This paper argues that “free will” is vague. The argument has two steps. First, I argue that free will is a matter of degrees and, second, that there are no sharp boundaries separating free decisions and actions and non‐free ones. After presenting the argument, I focus on one significant consequence of the thesis, although others are mentioned along the way. In short, considerations of vagueness help understand the logic behind so‐called manipulation arguments, but also show why these arguments are ultimately (...)
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  2. Practical reasons to believe, epistemic reasons to act, and the baffled action theorist.Nomy Arpaly - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):22-32.
    I argue that unless belief is voluntary in a very strict sense – that is, unless credence is simply under our direct control – there can be no practical reasons to believe. I defend this view against recent work by Susanna Rinard. I then argue that for very similar reasons, barring the truth of strict doxastic voluntarism, there cannot be epistemic reasons to act, only purely practical reasons possessed by those whose goal is attaining knowledge or justified belief.
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  3. Libertarianism and agentive experience.Justin A. Capes - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):33-44.
    Libertarianism about free will conjoins the thesis that free will requires indeterminism with the thesis that we have free will. Here the claim that we have experiential evidence for the libertarian position is assessed. It is argued that, on a straightforward reading, the claim is false, for our experiences as agents don't support the claim that free will requires indeterminism. However, our experiences as agents may still have a role to play in an overall case for libertarianism, insofar as they (...)
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  4. I didn't think of that.Randolph Clarke - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):45-57.
    Consider cases in which an agent simply doesn.t think to do a certain thing, or doesn't think of a crucial consideration favoring doing a certain thing, or intends to do a certain thing but forgets to do it. In such a case, is the agent able to do the thing that she fails to do? Assume that commonly we all‐in can do things that we do not do. Here I argue that, given this assumption, in the cases under consideration, too, (...)
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  5. Why history matters for moral responsibility: Evaluating history‐sensitive structuralism.Taylor W. Cyr - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):58-69.
    Is moral responsibility essentially historical, or does an agent's moral responsibility for an action depend only on their psychological structure at that time? In previous work, I have argued that the two main (non‐skeptical) views on moral responsibility and agents’ histories—historicism and standard structuralism—are vulnerable to objections that are avoided by a third option, namely history‐sensitive structuralism. In this paper, I develop this view in greater detail and evaluate the view by comparing it with its three dialectical rivals: skepticism about (...)
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  6.  79
    Agency and responsibility: The personal and the political.Sofia Jeppsson - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):70-82.
    In this paper, I review arguments according to which harsh criminal punishments and poverty are undeserved and therefore unjust. Such arguments come in different forms. First, one may argue that no one deserves to be poor or be punished, because there is no such thing as desert-entailing moral responsibility. Second, one may argue that poor people in particular do not deserve to remain in poverty or to be punished if they commit crimes, because poor people suffer from psychological problems that (...)
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  7.  32
    Responsibility and iterated knowledge.Alex Kaiserman - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):83-94.
    I defend an iterated knowledge condition on responsibility for outcomes: one is responsible for a consequence of one's action only if one was in a position to know that, for all one was in a position to know, one's action would have that consequence.
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  8. Epistemic control without voluntarism.Timothy R. Kearl - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):95-109.
    It is tempting to think (though many deny) that epistemic agents exercise a distinctive kind of control over their belief‐like attitudes. My aim here is to sketch a “bottom‐up” model of epistemic agency, one that draws on an analogous model of practical agency, according to which an agent's conditional beliefs are reasons‐responsive planning states that initiate and sustain mental behavior so as to render controlled.
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  9. Freedom, moral responsibility, and the failure of universal defeat.Andrew J. Latham, Somogy Varga & Hannah Tierney - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):252-269.
    Proponents of manipulation arguments against compatibilism hold that manipulation scope (how many agents are manipulated) and manipulation type (whether the manipulator intends that an agent perform a particular action) do not impact judgments about free will and moral responsibility. Many opponents of manipulation arguments agree that manipulation scope has no impact but hold that manipulation type does. Recent work by Latham and Tierney (2022, 2023) found that people's judgments were sensitive to manipulation scope: people judged that an agent was less (...)
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  10. Incompatibilism and the garden of forking paths.Andrew Law - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):110-123.
    Let (leeway) incompatibilism be the thesis that causal determinism is incompatible with the freedom to do otherwise. Several prominent authors have claimed that incompatibilism alone can capture, or at least best captures, the intuitive appeal behind Jorge Luis Borges's famous “Garden of Forking Paths” metaphor. The thought, briefly, is this: the “single path” leading up to one's present decision represents the past; the forking paths that one must decide between represent those possible futures consistent with the past and the laws (...)
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  11.  33
    Reasons‐responsiveness, control and the negligence puzzle.Yael Loewenstein - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):124-139.
    A longstanding puzzle about moral responsibility for negligence arises from three plausible yet jointly inconsistent theses: (i) an agent can, in certain circumstances, be morally responsible for some outcome O, even if her behavior with respect to O is negligent (i.e., even if she never adverted to the possibility that the behavior might result in O), (ii) an agent can be morally responsible for O only if she has some control over O, (iii) if an agent acts negligently with respect (...)
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  12.  73
    Adaptive abilities.Erasmus Mayr & Barbara Vetter - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):140-154.
    Abilities, in contrast to mere dispositions, propensities, or tendencies, abilities seem to be features of agents that put the agent herself in control. But what is the distinguishing feature of abilities vis‐à‐vis other kinds of powers? Our aim in this paper is to point, in answer to this question, to a crucial feature of abilities that existing accounts have tended to neglect: their adaptivity. Adaptivity is a feature of how abilities are exercised. The main reason for its relative neglect has (...)
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  13.  30
    A timid response to the consequence argument.Michael McKenna - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):155-169.
    In this paper, I challenge the Consequence Argument for Incompatibilism by arguing that the inference principle it relies upon is not well motivated. The sorts of non-question-begging instances that might be offered in support of it fall short.
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  14.  23
    Higher‐Order Omissions and the Stacked View of Agency.Joseph Metz - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):170-182.
    Omissions are puzzling, and theyraise myriad questions for many areas of philosophy. In contrast, omissions ofomissions are not usually taken to be very puzzling since they are oftenthought to just be a fancy way of describing ordinary “positive” events, statesof affairs, or actions. This paper contends that – as far as agency isconcerned – at least some omissions of omissions are omissions, not actions. First,this paper highlights how our actions are accompanied by many first-orderomissions - i.e., omissions to act – (...)
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  15. Practical understanding.Lilian O'Brien - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):183-197.
    Well‐functioning agents ordinarily have an excellent epistemic relationship to their intentional actions. This phenomenon is often characterized as knowledge of what one is doing and labeled “practical knowledge”. But when we examine it carefully, it seems to require a particular kind of understanding ‐ understanding of the normative structure of one's action. Three lines of argument are offered to support this Necessity of Understanding thesis. The first appeals to the nature of intentional action and the second to our everyday reasons (...)
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  16.  27
    Flickering the W‐Defense.Michael Robinson - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):198-210.
    One way to defend the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) against Frankfurt‐style cases is to challenge the claim that agents in these scenarios are genuinely morally responsible for what they do. Alternatively, one can grant that agents are morally responsible for what they do in these cases but resist the idea that they could not have done otherwise. This latter strategy is known as the flicker defense of PAP. In an argument he calls the W‐Defense, David Widerker adopts the former (...)
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  17.  31
    From responsibility to causation: The intransitivity of causation as a case study.Carolina Sartorio - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):211-222.
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  18. Freedom, foreknowledge, and betting.Amy Seymour - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):223-236.
    Certain kinds of prediction, foreknowledge, and future‐oriented action appear to require settled future truths. But open futurists think that the future is metaphysically unsettled: if it is open whether p is true, then it cannot currently be settled that p is true. So, open futurists—and libertarians who adopt the position—face the objection that their view makes rational action and deliberation impossible. I defuse the epistemic concern: open futurism does not entail obviously counterintuitive epistemic consequences or prevent rational action.
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  19. Determination from Above.Kenneth Silver - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):237-251.
    There are many historical concerns about freedom that have come to be deemphasized in the free will literature itself—for instance, worries around the tyranny of government or the alienation of capitalism. It is hard to see how the current free will literature respects these, or indeed how they could even find expression. This paper seeks to show how these and other concerns can be reintegrated into the debate by appealing to a levels ontology. Recently, Christian List and others have considered (...)
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  20. It Would be Bad if Compatibilism Were True; Therefore, It Isn't.Patrick Todd - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):270-284.
    I want to suggest that it would be bad if compatibilism were true, and that this gives us good reason to think that it isn't. This is, you might think, an outlandish argument, and the considerable burden of this paper is to convince you otherwise. There are two key elements at stake in this argument. The first is that it would be ‐ in a distinctive sense to be explained ‐ bad if compatibilism were true. The thought here is that (...)
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  21. Agency: Let's Mind What's Fundamental.Robert H. Wallace - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):285–298.
    The standard event-causal theory of action says that an intentional action is caused in the right way by the right mental states. This view requires reductionism about agency. The causal role of the agent must be nothing over and above the causal contribution of the relevant mental event-causal processes. But commonsense finds this reductive solution to the “agent-mind problem”, the problem of explaining the relationship between agents and the mind, incredible. Where did the agent go? This paper suggests that this (...)
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  22.  50
    Free will and self expression: A compatibilist garden of forking paths.Robyn Repko Waller - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):299-313.
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  23.  26
    A new solution to the problem of luck.Ann Whittle - 2023 - Philosophical Issues 33 (1):314-327.
    The issue of whether and how we have the control necessary for freedom and moral responsibility is central to all control accounts of freedom and moral responsibility. The problem of luck for libertarians aims to show that indeterministic agents are ill‐equipped with the control required for freedom and moral responsibility. In view of this, we must either endorse scepticism about the possibility of free and morally responsible agents, or make some form of, possibly revisionary, compatibilism work.In this paper, I shall (...)
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