Defending (a modified version of) the Zygote Argument

Philosophical Studies 164 (1):189-203 (2013)

Authors
Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Think of the last thing someone did to you to seriously harm or offend you. And now imagine, so far as you can, becoming fully aware of the fact that his or her action was the causally inevitable result of a plan set into motion before he or she was ever even born, a plan that had no chance of failing. Should you continue to regard him or her as being morally responsible—blameworthy, in this case—for what he or she did? Many have thought that, intuitively, you should not. Recently, Alfred Mele has employed this line of thought to mount what many have taken to be a powerful argument for incompatibilism: the “Zygote Argument”. However, in interesting new papers, John Martin Fischer and Stephen Kearns have each independently argued that the Zygote Argument fails. As I see it, the criticisms of Fischer and Kearns reveal some important questions about how the argument is meant to be—or how it would best be—understood. Once we make a slight (but important) modification to the argument, however, I think we will be able to see that the criticisms of Fischer and Kearns do not detract from its substantial force
Keywords The Zygote Argument  Manipulation arguments  Free will  Moral responsibility  Compatibilism  Incompatibilism  Alfred Mele
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9848-5
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References found in this work BETA

Free Will and Luck.Alfred R. Mele - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
Free Will and Luck: Reply to Critics.Alfred R. Mele - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (2):153 – 155.
Manipulation, Compatibilism, and Moral Responsibility.Alfred R. Mele - 2008 - The Journal of Ethics 12 (3-4):263-286.
The Zygote Argument Remixed.J. M. Fischer - 2011 - Analysis 71 (2):267-272.
Aborting the Zygote Argument.Stephen Kearns - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (3):379-389.

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Citations of this work BETA

Does God Have the Moral Standing to Blame?Patrick Todd - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (1):33-55.
Manipulation, Moral Responsibility, and Bullet Biting.Alfred R. Mele - 2013 - The Journal of Ethics 17 (3):167-184.
In Defence of the Four-Case Argument.Benjamin Matheson - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1963-1982.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

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Aborting the Zygote Argument.Stephen Kearns - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (3):379-389.
The Zygote Argument Remixed.J. M. Fischer - 2011 - Analysis 71 (2):267-272.
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Rowe's Probabilistic Argument From Evil.Richard Otte - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (2):147-171.
Freedom and Miracles.John Martin Fischer - 1988 - Noûs 22 (2):235-252.
Metaphysical Accounts of the Zygote as a Person and the Veto Power of Facts.Thomas J. Bole - 1989 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 14 (6):647-653.

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