Geert Keil
Humboldt-University, Berlin
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 the relevant abilities. On a libertarian construal, Black deprives Jones of the opportunity to use his two-way power of choice to a different outcome than he actually uses it. I argue that being deprived of this opportunity is immaterial to what free will requires. In the second half of the paper, I relate my approach to the ‘flicker of freedom’ strategy. On closer look, we do find a residual ability that Jones not only possesses but also exercises in cases where Black intervenes. I argue that Jones tries to decide otherwise in these cases, that Black only thwarts the success of Jones’s attempt, and that being snatched from the wheel at the very last moment does not compromise Jones’s free will.
Keywords Frankfurt-style counterexamples  Frankfurt cases  Dilemma defense  Flicker of freedom  New dispositionalism  Masked Abilities  Two-way power  Acting and refraining  Harry Frankfurt
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2022
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,231
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Ability to Do Otherwise and the New Dispositionalism.Romy Jaster - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Deterministic Frankfurt Cases.David Palmer - 2014 - Synthese 191 (16):3847-3864.
Robust Flickers of Freedom.Michael Robinson - 2019 - Social Philosophy and Policy 36 (1):211-233.
Why Frankfurt-Examples Don’T Need to Succeed to Succeed.Felipe Leon & Neal A. Tognazzini - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):551-565.
A Critique of Frankfurt-Libertarianism.Kevin Timpe - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (2):189-202.
Countering Cova: Frankfurt-Style Cases Are Still Broken.Neil Levy - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (3):523-527.
Actions, Thought-Experiments and the 'Principle of Alternate Possibilities'.Maria Alvarez - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):61 – 81.


Added to PP index

Total views
33 ( #347,732 of 2,518,243 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #58,483 of 2,518,243 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes