Abilities to do otherwise

Philosophical Studies 172 (11):3017-3035 (2015)
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Abstract

In this paper I argue that there are different ways that an agent may be able to do otherwise and that therefore, when free will is understood as requiring that an agent be able to do otherwise, we face the following question: which way of being able to do otherwise is most relevant to free will? I answer this question by first discussing the nature of intrinsic dispositions and abilities, arguing that for each action type there is a spectrum of intrinsic abilities. I suggest that recognising this allows us to articulate two ways in which an intrinsic ability is general (such that there are two kinds of non-general ability). And I argue that the abilities most relevant to free will need to be non-general in both of the ways identified. Along the way I show why these points threaten to undermine Vihvelin’s dispositionalist account of free will.

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