Carl Ginet is an incompatibilist. He may have helped originate the position called incompatibilism, in his 1966 article. Ginet argues that reasons can be considered as causal explanations for actions, but that reasons themselves are "non-causal," allowing us to escape from causal determinism. What he claims is that (contra Donald Davidson) the truth of a reasons explanation of an action does not require that the explaining reason-states (beliefs, desires, etc.) caused the action; but he allows that their causing the action is compatible with the reasons explanation.
He has written two important articles on the subject - "Might We Have No Choice?" in Freedom and Determinism, ed. K. Lehrer (1966) and "Can the Will be Caused?" in Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility, G. Dworkin, 1970.
In "Might We Have No Choice?," Ginet stated the Determinism Objection to Free Will in a form similar to Peter van Inwagen's "Consequence Argument" of twenty years later.
I shall be concerned with one possible specification of the old unclear question of whether free will is incompatible with determinism. I want to see if it is possible to construct an hypothesis about the antecedents of human behavior that...is compatible with all previous observations and well-established hypotheses... and implies that no human being ever has a choice as to whether or not he shall behave as he actually does (ever really chooses the way that he does behave). (p.87) Every temporal segment of every human being's behavior 'B' has a...series of antecedent sets of circumstances having the descriptions 'A1', 'A2' .. . . . , 'An', such that
In this seminal article, Ginet also described hypothetical mind-controllers that anticipate Harry Frankfurt's controllers a couple of years later. Ginet says that his controller directly causes both the path the car takes and the motivational and volitional events in the agent's brain in such a way as to make them coincide and give the agent the illusion that his voluntary bodily actions are steering the car. The corresponding Frankfurt controller would directly cause only the motivational and volitional processes and through them cause the bodily actions and the steering of the car by the agent.
Suppose that the path that the car takes is controlled by some person other than the rider, who also controls (through, say, instruments attached to the rider's brain) what delusions or illusions of steering the rider will have, and suppose that this controller sees to it that the path he makes the rider think he is choosing is always the same as the path he (the controller) makes the car take. In this case, even though it is true that, if the rider had had the impression of choosing a different path the car would have taken a correspondingly different path, it is still the case that the rider's choice-impression does not determine what path the car takes, that the rider has no choice of any sort as to what path it will take, and, hence, that he does not effectively choose its path. (p.103)
Frankfurt designed his controllers to question his "Principle of Alternate Possibilities," in order to deny that an agent could have done otherwise. The ability to do otherwise is widely regarded as a necessary condition for moral responsibility. Some philosophers think that we can be morallly responsible even if determinism is true. Peter F. Strawson argued in 1962 that even if determinism were true, it would still be a natural fact that humans act as if they have moral responsibility. They have attitudes of praise and blame, gratitude and resentment. Ginet has also written on alternative possibilities. "In Defense of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities: Why I Don't Find Frankfurt's Argument Convincing," in Tomberlin ed., Philosophical Perspectives 10: Metaphysics (1996) and on "Freedom, Responsibilty, and Agency," The Journal of Ethics I, pp. 85-98, reprinted in Free Will, ed. R. Kane, (2002) p. 206.
Ginet defends a non-causal indeterminist libertarianism that Timothy O'Connor and he call "simple indeterminism," contrasting it with the "agent causation" of O'Connor and others, including Roderick Chisholm, Richard Taylor, and Thomas Reid who first advocated mental events as metaphysical agent causation in the eighteenth century. Others who espouse a non-causal theory include Donald Davidson, Stewart Goetz, Hugh McCann, and David Widerker. Ginet also contrasts his view with the event-causal "indeterminist-causation" view of Robert Kane and Robert Nozick, both of which add some indeterminism to the decision process itself, contributing an element of chance to the direct cause of action. For Ginet, there is no chance involved in his volition, his mental event that has a certain "actish" quality, an event not causally necessitated by antecedent events, but simply determined and controlled by him.
Every action, according to me, either is or begins with a causally simple mental action, that is, a mental event that does not consist of one mental event causing others. A simple mental event is an action if and only if it has a certain intrinsic phenomenal quality, which I've dubbed the "actish" quality and tried to describe by using agent-causation talk radically qualified by "as if": the simple mental event of my volition to exert force with a part of my body phenomenally seems to me to be intrinsically an event that does not just happen to me, that does not occur unbidden, but it is, rather, as if I make it occur, as if I determine that it will happen just when and as it does (likewise for simple mental acts that are not volitions, such as my mentally saying "Shucks!"). A simple mental event's having this intrinsic actish phenomenal quality is sufficient for its being an action. But its having the quality entails nothing either way as to whether it satisfies the incompatibilist requirement for free action (which is that it not be causally necessitated by antecedent events). An action may be causally complex, may consist of a simple mental action plus consequences of it. For example, my action of voluntarily pushing with my arm and hand against a door begins with a volition, a simple mental act of willing to exert a certain force in a certain direction with my arm and hand, and consists further in that volition's causing my arm and hand to exert such a force. My action of opening the door has a still further component of the door's opening being caused by the force exerted against it by my arm and hand. Now, as I explained earlier, if an event is not an action of mine — for example, the door's opening — then I can make that event occur only by causing it, that is, by performing some action that causes it. But I make my own free, simple mental acts occur, not by causing them, but simply by being their subject, by their being my acts. They are ipso facto determined or controlled by me, provided they are free, that is, not determined by something else, not causally necessitated by antecedent states and events.