A critique of Pereboom's 'four-case argument' for incompatibilism

Analysis 65 (1):75-80 (2005)

Authors
Alfred Mele
Florida State University
Abstract
One popular style of argument for the thesis that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility features manipulation. Its thrust is that regarding moral responsibility, there is no important difference between various cases of manipulation in which agents who A are not morally responsible for A-ing and ordinary cases of A-ing in deterministic worlds. There is a detailed argument of this kind in Derk Pereboom’s recent book (2001: 112–26). His strategy in what he calls his ‘four-case argument’ (117) is to describe three cases of progressively weaker manipulation in which, he contends, the agent, Plum, is not morally responsible for killing his victim and to compare them to a related deterministic case that involves no manipulation. Pereboom argues that what blocks Plum’s moral responsibility for the killing in the first three cases is the fact that ‘his action results from a deterministic causal process that traces back to factors beyond his control’ and that, because this fact also obtains in the fourth case, Plum is not morally responsible for that killing either (116). My thesis is that Pereboom’s argument fails.
Keywords Determinism  Incompatibilism  Manipulation  Metaphysics  Moral Responsibility  Pereboom, D
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8284.2005.00527.x
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Is Incompatibilism Intuitive?Jason Turner, Eddy Nahmias, Stephen Morris & Thomas Nadelhoffer - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):28-53.
A Hard-Line Reply to Pereboom’s Four-Case Manipulation Argument.Michael McKenna - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (1):142-159.
Manipulation, Compatibilism, and Moral Responsibility.Alfred R. Mele - 2008 - The Journal of Ethics 12 (3-4):263-286.
Aborting the Zygote Argument.Stephen Kearns - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (3):379-389.

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