What time travelers cannot not do (but are responsible for anyway)

Philosophical Studies 166 (1):149-162 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The Principle of Alternative Possibilities is the intuitive idea that someone is morally responsible for an action only if she could have done otherwise. Harry Frankfurt has famously presented putative counterexamples to this intuitive principle. In this paper, I formulate a simple version of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities that invokes a course-grained notion of actions. After warming up with a Frankfurt-Style Counterexample to this principle, I introduce a new kind of counterexample based on the possibility of time travel. At the end of the paper, I formulate a more sophisticated version of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities that invokes a certain fine grained notion of actions. I then explain how this new kind of counterexample can be augmented to show that even the more sophisticated principle is false

Similar books and articles

Causal History Matters, but Not for Individuation.Kevin Timpe - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):77-91.
Actions, thought-experiments and the 'principle of alternate possibilities'.Maria Alvarez - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):61 – 81.
Robust Alternatives and Responsibility.Robert Allen - 2004 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 1 (1):21-29.
On the inevitability of freedom (from the compatibilist point of view).Galen Strawson - 1986 - American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (4):393-400.
A critique of Frankfurt-libertarianism.Kevin Timpe - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (2):189-202.
Choice, moral responsibility and alternative possibilities.Vivienne Brown - 2006 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (3):265-288.

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-09-19

Downloads
611 (#29,174)

6 months
139 (#26,564)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Joshua Spencer
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Citations of this work

Paradoxes of Time Travel.Ryan Wasserman - 2017 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Implicit attitudes and the ability argument.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2961-2990.
Lessons from Grandfather.Andrew Law & Ryan Wasserman - 2022 - Philosophies 7 (1):11.
Time Travelers Are Not Free.Michael C. Rea - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (5):266-279.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David K. Lewis - 1976 - American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):145-152.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David Lewis - 2004 - In Tim Crane & Katalin Farkas (eds.), Metaphysics: a guide and anthology. Oxford University Press UK.
Actions, thought-experiments and the 'principle of alternate possibilities'.Maria Alvarez - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):61 – 81.

View all 16 references / Add more references