‘Can’ and the Consequence Argument

Ratio 27 (2):173-189 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The consequence argument is a powerful incompatibilist argument for the conclusion that, if determinism is true, what one does is what one must do. A major point of controversy between classical compatibilists and incompatibilists has been over the use of ‘can’ in the consequence argument. Classical compatibilists, holding that abilities to act are dispositions, have argued that ‘can’ should be analyzed as a conditional. But such an analysis of ‘can’ puts compatibilists in a position to grant the premises of the argument while denying the conclusion. Incompatibilists remain unconvinced, and this corner of the debate over free will has reached a dialectical impasse. The present paper has two aims. First, to offer a new dialectical point of entry into this dispute on behalf of incompatibilists. By making use of Angelika Kratzer's influential semantic work on ‘can’ and ‘must’, I argue that incompatibilists are in a position to offer a plausible, positive treatment of ‘can’ that favors their view. Second, even if one does not think incompatibilism is thereby true (for as we shall see there are places to push back), the Kratzer semantics yields a number of important insights concerning the consequence argument that should be of broad interest.

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-10-11

Downloads
158 (#81,280)

6 months
9 (#95,605)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Alex Grzankowski
Birkbeck, University of London

Citations of this work

Alternative possibilities in context.Alex Kaiserman - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (10):1308-1324.
Freedom and the Open Future.Yishai Cohen - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
Relative Modality and the Ability to do Otherwise.Ralph Weir - 2016 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 12 (1):47-61.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - New York: Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 2006 - In Aloysius Martinich, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Early Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 42 (3):341-344.

View all 11 references / Add more references