The Direct Argument for Incompatibilism

In David Palmer (ed.), David Palmer (ed.) Libertarian Free Will, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 88-106. Oxford University Press. pp. 88-106 (2014)
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Abstract
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.
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