The Robustness Requirement on Alternative Possibilities

The Journal of Ethics 26 (3):481-499 (2022)
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Abstract

In a series of recent papers, Justin Capes and Philip Swenson and Michael Robinson have proposed new versions of the flickers of freedom reply to Frankfurt-style cases. Both proposals claim, first, that what agents in FSCs are morally responsible for is performing a certain action on their own, and, second, that agents in FSCs retain robust alternative possibilities—alternatives in which the agent freely omits to perform the pertinent action on their own. In this paper, I argue that, by attending to the details of the omissions in question, it becomes clear that agents in FSCs lack robust alternatives of this sort, for in the alternative sequences such agents do not freely omit. Since the problem for these recent proposals arises from their attempt to show that agents in FSCs retain robust alternatives, I go on to consider whether the flicker theorist might be better off either revising or rejecting the robustness requirement on alternative possibilities. I argue that neither alternative is available to the flicker theorist, and yet I also point out that the reasons why these alternatives are unavailable serve to highlight what exactly is at issue in the debate between leeway and sourcehood theorists, namely the grounds of our freedom.

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Taylor W. Cyr
Samford University

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