In a recent paper, John Fischer develops a new argument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) based on a deterministic scenario. Fischer uses this result (i) to rebut the Dilemma Defense - a well-known incompatibilist response to Frankfurt-type counterexamples to PAP; and (ii) to maintain that: If causal determinism rules out moral responsibility, it is not just in virtue of eliminating alternative possibilities. In this article, we argue that Fischer's new argument against PAP fails, thus leaving points (i) and (...) (ii) unsupported. (shrink)
In this paper, I present an argument that shows that the belief in libertarian freedom is inconsistent with two assumptions widely accepted by those who are physicalists with regard to the relation between the mental and the physical - that mental properties are distinct from physical properties, and that mental properties supervene on physical properties. After presenting the argument, I trace its implications for the question of the compatibility of libertarian free will and physicalism in general.
Abstract -/- Libertarians typically believe that we are morally responsible for the choices (or decisions) we make only if those choices are free, and our choices are free only if they are neither caused nor nomically necessitated by antecedent events. Recently, there have been a number of attempts by philosophers to refute libertarianism by arguing that because a libertarianly free decision (choice) is both causally and nomically undetermined, which decision an agent makes in a deliberative situation is a matter of (...) luck, which implies (due to the way these philosophers use 'luck') that the agent does not have control over which decision he makes. This argument has been dubbed "the Argument from Luck" or "the Luck Objection" against libertarianism – henceforth 'LO'. In this paper, we examine some versions of LO as reflected in the works of Alfred Mele (2006), Neil Levy (2011), and Peter van Inwagen (2000, 2011). We argue that libertarians have nothing to fear from LO. Deep down the objection reflects a failure, on the part of its proponents, really to come to grips with the libertarian position. (shrink)
Recently, John Fischer has applied Frankfurt’s well-known counter-example to the principle of alternate possibilities to refute the traditional libertarian position which holds that a necessary condition for an agent’s decision to be free in the sense of freedom required for moral responsibility is that the decision not be causally determined, and that the agent could have avoided making it. Fischer’s argument has consequently led various philosophers to develop libertarian accounts of freedom which try to dispense with the avoidability constraint on (...) freedom. My purpose in this article is to show that Fischer’s attack on traditional libertarianism fails, and, therefore, it is premature to abandon that position. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen's Direct Argument (DA) for incompatibilism purports to establish incompatibilism with respect to moral responsibility and determinism without appealing to assumptions that compatibilists usually consider controversial. Recently, Michael McKenna has presented a novel critique of DA. McKenna's critique raises important issues about philosophical dialectics. In this article, we address those issues and contend that his argument does not succeed.
Elsewhere, I proposed a libertarian-based account of freedom and moral blameworthiness which like Harry Frankfurt's 1969 account rejects the principle of alternative possibilities (which I call, Frankfurt-friendly libertarianism). In this paper I develop this account further (a) by responding to an important objection to it raised by Carlos Moya; (b) by exploring the question why, if unavoidability per se does not exonerate from blame, the Frankfurt-friendly libertarian is justified in exculpating an agent under determinism; (c) by arguing that some main (...) compatibilist alternatives to the account are unsatisfactory; and finally (d) by defending it against a general criticism of certain libertarian theories made by Derk Pereboom. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen's Direct Argument (DA) purports to establish the incompatibility of determinism and moral responsibility, without appealing to the notion of avoidability, a notion on whose analysis compatibilists and incompatibilists disagree. Van Inwagen intended DA to refute compatibilism, or at least to shift the burden of proof onto the compatibilist. In this paper, we offer a critical assessment of DA. We examine a variety of objections to DA due to John Fischer and Mark Ravizza, Ishtiyaque Haji, Seth Shabo, Michael (...) McKenna, and David Widerker. We divide these objections into those based on dialectical considerations (section 1), and objections in the form of counterexamples to a central principle which the Direct Argument employs (sec 2). The conclusion we reach is that the proponent of DA can deal plausibly with these objections, thus establishing DA as a powerful argument in favor of incompatibilism. (shrink)
John Fischer has attacked the Ockhamistic solution to the freedom–foreknowledge dilemma by arguing that: (1) God's prior beliefs about the future, though being soft facts about the past, are soft facts of a special sort, what he calls ‘hard-type soft facts’, i.e. soft facts, the constitutive properties of which are ‘hard’, or ‘temporally non-relational properties’; (2) in this respect, such facts are like regular past facts which are subject to the fixity of the past. In this paper, I take issue (...) with this argument by Fischer, claiming that it does not succeed for two reasons: (i) Fischer's account of the notion of a hard property is unsatisfactory; (ii) his notion of a hard-type soft fact is incoherent. Despite this criticism, I agree with Fischer that there is a fundamental difference between God's beliefs about the future and regular soft facts with regard to their fixity-status, but I argue that the reason for this difference is that God's forebeliefs are plain hard facts about the past. (shrink)
Non-Causal Libertarianism (NCL) is a libertarian position which aims to provide a non-causal account of action and freedom to do otherwise. NCL has been recently criticized from a number of quarters, notably from proponents of free will skepticism and agent-causation. The main complaint that has been voiced against NCL is that it does not provide a plausible account of an agent’s control over her action, and therefore, the account of free action it offers is inadequate. Some critics (mainly agent-causationists) have (...) even gone so far as to claim that NCL does not offer a plausible account of action. My goal in this paper is to defend NCL against these charges. More specifically, I deal with Derk Pereboom's Disappearing-Agent-Objection, Peter van Inwagen's Mind Argument, and with two objections to NCL by Randolph Clarke. (shrink)
In a recent article, David Hunt has proposed a theological counterexample to the principle of alternative possibilities involving divine foreknowledge (G-scenario). Hunt claims that this example is immune to my criticism of regular Frankfurt-type counterexamples to that principle, as God’s foreknowing an agent’s act does not causally determine that act. Furthermore, he claims that the considerations which support the claim that the agent is morally responsible for his act in a Frankfurt-type scenario also hold in a G-scenario. In reply, Icontest (...) Hunt’s symmetry claim and also raise a worry whether, given theological fatalism, the agent’s act in a G-scenario can be deemed a free act in the libertarian sense. Finally, I offer an independent argument why in a G-scenario the agent should not regarded morally blameworthy for his act. (shrink)
Recently, John Fischer has proposed a novel account of the hard/soft distinction which is an entailment account. At its basis is the idea that a fact about a time T as a soft fact about T if it entails a fact about a time later than T; and a fact about a time T as a hard fact about T if it does not do so. Elsewhere, I have expressed serious doubts whether an entailment account of the hard/soft fact distinction (...) can succeed. Thus, it is surprising that Fischer's new account, too, turns out to be inadequate, or so at least I shall argue. (shrink)
Recently, Colin McGinn has argued that Kripke's Cartesian argument against the mind-body identity thesis is not effective against anomalous monism. This paper attempts to show that the Cartesian has at his disposal an argument that is stronger than that formulated by Kripke, and one that cannot be rebutted by the anomalous monist in the way suggested by McGinn. The paper concludes with a suggestion as to the sort of identity theory one would have to subscribe to in order to resist (...) the stronger Cartesian argument. (shrink)
Recently, Widerker has attacked Fischer’s contention that one could use Frankfurt-type counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities to show that even from a libertarian viewpoint an agent might be morally responsible for a decision that he could not have avoided. Fischer has responded by: arguing that Widerker’s criticism presupposes the falsity of Molinism and presenting a version of libertarianism which avoids Widerker’s criticism. Here we argue that: Fischer’s first response is unconvincing and undermines Molinism itself; the version of libertarianism (...) he presents is fallacious, and even on the version of libertarianism he proposes, avoid ability remains a necessary condition for moral responsibility. (shrink)