I Couldn't Help It! Essays on Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities

Dissertation, (2011)

Justin A. Capes
Flagler College
According to the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP), a person is blameworthy for what he did only if he could have avoided doing it. This principle figures importantly in disputes about the relationship between determinism, divine foreknowledge, free will and moral responsibility, and has been the subject of considerable controversy for over forty years now. Proponents of the principle have devoted a good deal of energy and ingenuity to defending it against various objections. Surprisingly, however, they have devoted comparatively little effort to developing positive arguments for it, and, with few exceptions, the arguments they have proposed have received little, if any, critical attention. My dissertation is intended to help fill this gap in the literature on PAP. There are three main arguments for PAP. I critically evaluate each of these arguments, arguing that they are all unsuccessful. Where, then, does that leave PAP? I suggest that, in the absence of any further compelling arguments for or against the principle, debate over it is likely to end in dialectical stalemate. I conclude by highlighting several implications of this suggestion for recent debates about the metaphysics of moral responsibility
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