Manipulation Arguments and the Freedom to do Otherwise

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2):395-407 (2017)
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Abstract

I provide a manipulation-style argument against classical compatibilism—the claim that freedom to do otherwise is consistent with determinism. My question is simple: if Diana really gave Ernie free will, why isn't she worried that he won't use it precisely as she would like? Diana's non-nervousness, I argue, indicates Ernie's non-freedom. Arguably, the intuition that Ernie lacks freedom to do otherwise is stronger than the direct intuition that he is simply not responsible; this result highlights the importance of the denial of the principle of alternative possibilities for compatibilist theories of responsibility. Along the way, I clarify the dialectical role and structure of “manipulation arguments”, and compare the manipulation argument I develop with the more familiar Consequence Argument. I contend that the two arguments are importantly mutually supporting and reinforcing. The result: classical compatibilists should be nervous—and if PAP is true, all compatibilists should be nervous.

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Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh

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