Agentive Phenomenology and Moral Responsibility Agnosticism

Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (1):181-190 (2019)
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Abstract

Most incompatibilist theories of free will and moral responsibility require, for a person to count as morally responsible for an action, that specific events leading up to the action be undetermined. One might think, then, that incompatibilists should remain agnostic about whether anyone is ever free or morally responsible, since whether there are such undetermined events would seem to be an empirical question unsettled by scientific research. Yet, a number of incompatibilists have suggested that the phenomenological character of our experiences already gives us good reason to believe that much of our behavior is freely undertaken, so that we are justified in believing that the free will condition for moral responsibility is often satisfied. I argue, however, that on the assumption that free will is incompatible with determinism, reflections on the character of our experiences do not provide good support for the claim that we ever act freely.

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Leigh Vicens
Augustana University

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