Options must be external

Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1175-1189 (2020)
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Abstract
Brian Hedden has proposed that any successful account of options for the subjective “ought” must satisfy two constraints: first, it must ensure that we are able to carry out each of the options available to us, and second, it should guarantee that the set of options available to us supervenes on our mental states. In this paper I show that, due to the ever-present possibility of Frankfurt-style cases, these two constraints jointly entail that no agent has any options at any time. This consequence, however, is clearly unacceptable, so one of Hedden’s constraints must go. Because the ability constraint is indispensable, I argue, we have no choice but to reject the supervenience constraint. Hedden’s underlying motivation for imposing the supervenience constraint is the conviction that our options should be transparent to us, but transparency also proves to be incompatible with the ability constraint, so it must be rejected as well. I conclude by sketching an unabashedly externalist account of options, which conceives of options as exhaustive combinations of atomic movements.
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Archival date: 2020-08-02
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