Ability and cognition: A defense of compatibilism

Philosophical Studies 63 (August):231-43 (1991)
Abstract
The use of predicate and sentential operators to express the practical modalities -- ability, control, openness, etc. -- has given new life to a fatalistic argument against determinist theories of responsible agency. A familiar version employs the following principle: the consequences of what is unavoidable (beyond one's control) are themselves unavoidable. Accordingly, if determinism is true, whatever happens is the consequence of events in the remote past, or, of such events together with the laws of nature. But laws and the remote past are not under our control and, by the principle, neither are their consequences. Therefore, none of our choices and actions, nor anything that results from them, is under our control.1 Whether refinements of the closure principle underlying this unavoidability argument are acceptable depends upon the precise sense of 'consequence' and 'unavoidable' involved. Roughly, a proposition P is a consequence of a set of propositions M iff it is impossible that P be false when each member of M is true, or, conversely, when M necessitates P. Since P is unavoidable for S when P is true and S is (was) unable to prevent P from being true, it might seem that if P is unavoidable the same should hold of what is necessitated by P. There is, in fact, 1 an easy defense of the principle which utilizes the incompatibilist condition that S is able to do action K only if it is as yet undetermined whether or not S will K. With it, there is no question but that one is unable to accomplish what is already determined by what one was unable to prevent. Of course, this reasoning is unlikely to impress the compatibilist who rejects the condition outright and, expectedly, it is not the procedure of the proponents of the unavoidability argument. The latter might rest content with appeals to intuition, but more significant are defenses of the closure principle and independent derivations of the unavoidability argument that rely upon distinct principles concerning the logic of the practical modalities, for example, closure of ability under entailment (Cross 1986, Brown 1988) or, claims about the "fixity of the past" and the "inescapability of laws" (Ginet 1990)..
Keywords Avoidability  Compatibilism  Consequence  Determinism  Metaphysics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00381690
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,173
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Change in View.Gilbert Harman - 1986 - MIT Press.
A Theory of Human Action.Alvin I. Goldman - 1970 - Princeton University Press.
An Essay on Free Will.van Inwagen Peter - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Compatibilism and the Argument From Unavoidability.Thomas P. Flint - 1987 - Journal of Philosophy 84 (August):423-40.
Defending Lewis's Local Miracle Compatibilism.S. Oakley - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 130 (2):337-349.
Humean Compatibilism.Helen Beebee & Alfred R. Mele - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):201-223.
The Consequence Argument.Peter van Inwagen - 2008 - In Peter Van Inwagen & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Metaphysics: The Big Questions. Blackwell.
Divine Determinism, Human Freedom, and the Consequence Argument.Leigh C. Vicens - 2012 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 71 (2):145-155.
The Explanatory Power of Local Miracle Compatibilism.Garrett Pendergraft - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):249-266.
Autonomy and Manipulated Freedom.Tomis Kapitan - 2000 - Philosopical Perspectives 14 (s14):81-104.
Modal Principles in the Metaphysics of Free Will.Tomis Kapitan - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 10:419-45.
A Master Argument for Incompatibilism?Tomis Kapitan - 2002 - In Robert H. Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. Oxford University Press. pp. 127--157.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

63 ( #80,939 of 2,152,644 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #399,611 of 2,152,644 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums