The determinists have run out of luck—for a good reason

In his paper ‘‘Bad luck once again’’ Neil Levy attacks our proof of the consistency of libertarianism by reiterating a time-worn compatibilist complaint.1 This is, that what is not determined must be due to chance. If A has a choice of X or Y, neither X nor Y being causally determined, then if A chooses X it can only be by chance, never for a reason. The only ‘‘reason’’ that could explain the choice of X over Y would have to be a causally sufficient reason, which would rule out A’s having a genuine choice in the first place. Either X is causally necessitated or X is realized by sheer luck. But that these are the only alternatives is untrue. The exercise of deliberative reason opens the way between the Scylla of causal necessitation and the Charybdis of chance, as we shall try to make clear. The central core of Levy’s argument is that any attempt to give a reasons-based explanation of a contrastive fact must fail. A contrastive fact is a fact of the kind ‘‘Jane decides to vacation in Hawaii rather than Colorado,’’ or ‘‘Jane assigns a greater weight to surfing that to white-water rafting.’’ In the last three paragraphs of his paper Levy argues that Jane’s assigning more weight to surfing than to rafting cannot be a reasons-based assignment, because, as he puts it, ‘‘the reasons that would explain the weighting are the weighted reasons themselves.’’ Similarly, prior to making her Hawaii⁄ Colorado decision, Jane has..
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2008.00218.x
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