Dissertation, Stockholm University (2012)
In this dissertation, I argue for what I call “practical perspective compatibilism”. According to this thesis, an agent with practical freedom is sufficiently free to be a moral agent and morally responsible for his or her actions. The concept of practical freedom is originally found in the writings of Kant. Kant argued that we can view the world from either a theoretical or a practical perspective. The theoretical perspective is that of causal explanation and prediction, whereas the practical perspective is that of choosing what to do and how to act. We see that we are free when we view things from a practical perspective. Determinism cannot threaten our practical freedom, since from a practical perspective we must choose what to do even if everything ultimately is determined. I argue that practical freedom is sufficient freedom-wise for moral agency and moral responsibility because morality is action-guiding. Right and wrong are concepts to be employed in deliberation and advice. This is a strong reason to regard factors irrelevant to deliberators and advisers as irrelevant when making judgements of right and wrong, and whether somebody had some other kind of freedom than practical freedom is irrelevant to deliberators and advisers. There are also prima facie reasons to regard moral responsibility as tied to rightness and wrongness, so that agents are blameworthy when they did wrong and praiseworthy when they did right. I also show that no classic arguments for incompatibilism about determinism and moral responsibility work when directed against practical perspective compatibilism. Finally, this thesis discusses metaethics in relation to compatibilism. Since competing theories imply the falsity of some respected metaethical positions, metaethical considerations lend further support to practical perspective compatibilism.