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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
John Herschel
Werner Heisenberg
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Susanne Bobzien
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Diodorus Cronus
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
René Descartes
Richard Double
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Fred Dretske
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouillée
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Carl Ginet
H.Paul Grice
Nicholas St. John Green
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Christine Korsgaard
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Paul E. Meehl
Alfred Mele
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Karl Popper
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists
Kadri Vihvelin

In an early work,1 Kadri Vihvelin argued for a view called "Libertarian Compatibilism," thereby confusing the debate, but perhaps no more than the basic claim of compatibilists that free will is compatible with determinism.

As with most recent compatibilism arguments, at least since Harry Frankfurt's arguments that compatibilism does not require alternative possibilities, Vihvelin is agnostic on whether determinism is true or false.

Vihvelin describes the "common sense" view which believes that we are agents, importantly different from the rest of nature. This goes against the view of naturalism and determinism.

This common sense view also believes that we have the ability to transcend the forces that have made us what we are, that we are able somehow to "rise above" our desires and the chains of causation that bind the lower creatures.

Most important, this view assumes that we could have chosen and done otherwise, given the actual past.

Actually all we require is that our choice was not pre-determined by the actual past. In particular, all we require is that we chose from genuine alternative possibilities with a random element, and that those chance elements are not a direct cause of our decision or action, otherwise we would lack the control needed for moral responsibility.

Vihvelin claims to do justice to this "common sense" view of libertarian free will without departing either from naturalism or determinism. She does this by examining the views counterfactually.

First, she assumes (correctly) that the past is fixed, i.e., it was whatever it was just before the moments of decision. Second, she assumes that if we did otherwise, the only difference would be our choice, action, and the causal consequences of our action.

She then comes up with two counterfactuals that she says are consistent:

(C) If the past had been suitably different, S would have had different reasons and she would have chosen, tried, and succeeded in doing otherwise.

(L) If S had tried and succeeded in doing otherwise, the past prior to her choice would or at least might still have been exactly the same.2

Now we can examine Vihvelin's counterfactuals and explain them in terms of our two-stage model of free will - first free, then adequately determined will - as follows.

We must expand the notion of a single instantaneous moment of choice - before which was the "fixed past" and after which comes the choice and the attempted action.

Where Vihvelin has a single moment dividing fixed past from choice, we need at least two moments, the first dividing the fixed past from the generation of alternative possibilities (at least some of which involve genuine randomness) and the evaluation of these alternatives (a process which is adequately determined), and a second moment, where the decision is actually determined by the will's reasons, motives, feelings, etc.

We unpack the concept "free will" into a temporal sequence of "free" alternative possibilities followed by the determination of the "will."

We can now revise Vihvelin's two counterfactuals as follows:

(C) If the free generation of alternative possibilities had been suitably different, S would have had different reasons and she would have chosen, tried, and succeeded in doing otherwise.

(L) If S had tried and succeeded in doing otherwise, the past prior to the generation of alternative possibilities would or at least might still have been exactly the same.)

Note that S is free in the libertarian sense that she could have done otherwise, but her choice is adequately determined and thus she can feel responsible for her choices and actions, which are consistent with her character and values and not the direct result of chance, although chance plays a critical indirect role.

Indeterminist chance involved in generating creative alternative possibilities frees S's choices and actions from being pre-determined by the fixed past.


Vihvehlin strongly criticizes Harry Frankfurt's attempts to deny the existence of alternative possibilities.4

If Frankfurt’s aim was to convince libertarians that even if determinism renders us unable to do otherwise, it does not undermine responsibility, he has failed. If his aim was to make it easier to defend compatibilism, he has failed. And if his aim was to bypass questions about the truth-conditions of ‘can do otherwise’ claims, he has also failed, for the debate that has arisen in the wake of his original thought experiment is now mired deep in the very metaphysical questions he sought to avoid.

… It is my view that this literature is a philosophical dead end. Although I am a compatibilist, I think that Frankfurt’s strategy for defending compatibilism is a bad one. If we begin with the commonsense view that someone is morally responsible only if she could have done otherwise, then Frankfurt stories will not and should not change our minds. If we are persuaded by Frankfurt, it is because we have been taken in by a bad argument

In a recent debate, John Martin Fischer replied to Vihvelin's criticisms and defended Frankfurt.

Fischer's semicompatibilism depends on Frankfurt-style cases that purport to deny the alternative possibilities and the ability to do otherwise needed by libertarian incompatibilists. Fischer says:

My contention has been that, even though the arguments fall short of being decisive, there are strong plausibility arguments for the conclusion that the Frankfurt examples show that moral responsibility does not require alternative possibilities. Further, I have contended that the elements of the direct arguments for the incompatibility of causal determination and moral responsibility are considerably weaker than the ingredients of the arguments for the incompatibility of causal determinism and genuine metaphysical access to alternative possibilities (and thus the indirect arguments for the incompatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility)5

[T]here is no basic logical fallacy in arguing, as many of us have, that the set-up of the Frankfurt cases implies that, although the agent in question acts freely and is morally responsible, he lacks the relevant sort of access to alternative possibilities.6

Vihvelin's point that Frankfurt has not really eliminated alternative possibilities might be supported by this observation.

Frankfurt assumes that genuine alternative possibilities do exist. Without them, there is nothing for his counterfactual intervening demon to block. Without alternatives, Frankfurt would have to admit that there is only one "actual sequence" of events leading to one possible future, the old dilemma of determinism and bane of the compatibilists.

Since Frankfurt's demon, much like Laplace's demon, has no way of knowing the actual information about future events - such as agent's decisions - until that information comes into existence, such demons are not possible and Frankfurt-style thought experiments, entertaining as they are, can not establish the compatibilist version of free will.

In her reply to Fischer, Vihvelin says:

Frankfurt never pulled off his metaphysical conjuring trick. He left us with a promissory note, which his supporters have been trying to cash ever since. In the paper4 to which Fischer is replying, I argued that the literature dedicated to arguments about Frankfurt stories is a philosophical dead end.

Vihvelin's arguments depend on distinguishing conditional interventions from counterfactual interventions (which Fischer accepts as important), then showing that neither or both can eliminate alternative possibilities (which Fischer rejects).


In other recent work, Vihvelin has formulated novel arguments for libertarian incompatibilism that helps to distinguish it from her coined term "impossibilism," the claim that free will is incoherent, self-contradictory, or impossible for humans. (Impossibilism is also known as hard incompatibilism or illusionism.)

She says7,

Instead of understanding compatibilism and incompatibilism as propositions that are contradictories, we can understand them as propositions that are contraries. That is, we can understand compatibilism and incompatibilism as claims that can't both be true, but that can both be false. Compatibilism and incompatibilism are both false if a third claim, impossibilism, is true. Impossibilism is the thesis that free will is conceptually or metaphysically impossible for non-godlike creatures like us.
Vihvelin appears to agree with Galen Strawson that a self-caused cause, a causa sui, is not possible for "non-godlike creatures."

On David Lewis and Free Will
In a 2010 post on her blog, Vihvelin presents a careful discussion of Peter van Inwagen's Consequence Argument and David Lewis's reply.

The only serious argument for incompatibilism that I know is the Consequence argument due, most famously, to Peter van Inwagen.  (An Essay on Free Will, OUP, 1983.)

The version I will discuss is due to David Lewis.  ("Are We Free to Break the Laws?”, Theoria 47 (1981), 113-121)

He tells us to think of the argument as a reductio.  A  compatibilist is someone who claims that the truth of determinism is compatible with the existence of the kinds of abilities that we assume we have in typical situations in which we deliberate and make a choice.   Let’s call these ‘ordinary abilities’. The Consequence argument claims that if we suppose that a deterministic agent has ordinary abilities, we are forced to credit her with incredible abilities as well.

Here is Lewis's argument.

Pretend that  determinism is true, and that I did not raise my hand (at that department meeting, to vote on a proposal) but had the ordinary ability to do so.  If I had exercised my ordinary ability – if I had raised my hand -- then either the remote past or the laws of physics would have been different (would have to have been different). But if that’s so, then I have at least one of two incredible abilities – the ability to change the remote past or the ability to change the laws. But to suppose that I have either of these incredible abilities is absurd.  So we must reject the claim that I had the ordinary ability to raise my hand.

Van Inwagen doesn't object to Lewis's way of stating his argument.  On the contrary, he has said that Lewis's paper  is “the finest essay that has ever been written in defense of compatibilism – possibly the finest essay that has ever been written about any aspect of the free will problem”.  ("How to Think about the Problem of Free Will”, Journal of Ethics (2008) 12, 337-341).

Van Inwagen now agrees that the Consequence argument fails as a reductio.

However, he claims that it has nevertheless succeeded in  "raising the price" of compatibilism.  (Freedom to Break the Laws", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 28 (2004), Blackwell, 334-350).

I disagree. I say that the argument neither succeeds as a reductio nor succeeds in  "raising the price" of compatibilism - that is, the price of commonsense  at a deterministic world.  What the argument does achieve -- at least on Lewis's articulation of it -- is a clear statement of the counterfactuals to which the compatibilist is committed. The argument is valuable for this reason.  It makes it clear that we need to understand counterfactuals in order to understand what's at stake in the free will/determinism debate. But as an argument for incompatibilism, it fails.

Lewis's criticism of the Consequence Argument was published in 1981.  His criticism was impeccable but his timing was bad.  Lewis had published Counterfactuals (his possible worlds semantics and logic for counterfactuals) only 8 years earlier, in 1973, and counterfactuals were still poorly understood, and apparently not understood at all by some of the critics of Lewis's reply who seemed to think that Lewis had invented "local miracles counterfactuals" for the express purpose of defending a new and bizarre kind of compatibilism - "Local Miracles Compatibilism".  There was further confusion due to the fact that Lewis developed his theory of counterfactuals in two stages: the formal logic came first (in 1973);  and it was not until 1979 ("Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrrow") that Lewis proposed a detailed similarity ranking for possible worlds, and showed how to apply this similarity ranking in a way that gets the right truth-conditions for counterfactuals.   It was also well-known, by then, that Lewis hoped to use counterfactuals to provide a counterfactual analysis of causation.  All this was wildly ambitious, and many people were skeptical that Lewis could pull it all off.  But -- and this is my main point -- it was natural, and understandable, back then, to think that Lewis's theory of counterfactuals is a "package deal" which you can accept only if you accept other parts of Lewisian metaphysics. So many people hesitated, and this may explain why Lewis's critique did not have the effect it should have had.

But now that time has passed and the dust has settled, it's clear that this is not the case.  Lewis's theory of counterfactuals is independent of most of his other views. You can accept his theory of counterfactuals (including everything he says in response to the Consequence Argument) without accepting any of the following: Lewis's controversial brand of  realism about possible worlds, his counterfactual analysis of causation, his "Best System" version of a Humean account of laws, his thesis of Humean supervenience.

Furthermore, Lewis's criticism of the Consequence Argument doesn't depend on the truth of his theory of counterfactuals. (His theory is, I believe, correct, but even if it weren't his criticism would still stand.)

Lewis's formulation of the Consequence argument nicely highlights a point that the better known modal version of the argument glosses over.  The argument relies on a claim about counterfactuals. The argument says that if determinism is true, then at least one of these counterfactuals is true:

Different Past:  If I had raised my hand, the remote past would have been different (would have to have been different).

Different Laws: If I had raised my hand, the laws would have been different (would have to have been different).

Now I agree that both these counterfactuals strike many people as incredible.  But there is a reason for that --  we are not used to thinking in terms of determinism and we are not accustomed to counterfactual speculation about what would have to have been the case if anything at a deterministic world had happened in any way other than the way it actually happened.

On the other hand, we are good at evaluating counterfactuals, or at least some counterfactuals, and we are especially good at evaluating those counterfactuals that we entertain in contexts of choice, when we ask questions about the causal upshots of our contemplated actions.  (What would happen if... I struck this match, put my finger in the fire, threw this rock at that window, raised my hand?)  And when we contemplate our options, we take for granted the existence of many facts - including facts about the laws and the past. 

In other words, when we evaluate  counterfactuals in real life, we do so by considering imaginary situations which are very like the situation we are actually in, and we do not suppose that there are any gratuitous departures from actuality.  And to suppose a difference in the past or the laws is a gratuitous difference -- if determinism is false.

So it is no surprise that when our attention is directed to  Different Past and Different Laws, these counterfactuals strike us as incredible, or at least odd.  But that doesn’t mean that  they are  false, and if determinism is true, then  either Different Past or Different Laws is true.

So the first point is that we all need a theory of counterfactuals, and if determinism is true, the true counterfactuals will include either Different Past or Different Laws. 

The second point is that the details of the correct compatibilist solution to the free will/determinism problem will turn on the details of the correct theory of counterfactuals. 

If David Lewis's theory of counterfactuals is correct,  or even more or less correct, then the relevant counterfactuals about the past and laws, at a deterministic world, are:

1. Same Past:  If I had raised my hand, the past would still have been exactly the same until shortly before the time of my decision.

2. Slightly Different Laws:  If I had raised my hand, the laws would have been ever so slightly different in a way that permitted the occurrence of a lawful divergence from actual history shortly before the time of my decision.

On the other hand, if Lewis's theory is wrong, and counterfactuals are always evaluated by holding the laws constant, then the relevant counterfactuals, at a deterministic world, are:

1. Same Laws:  If I had raised my hand, the laws would still have been exactly the same.

2.  Completely Different Past:  If I had raised my hand, the past would have been different all the way back to the Big Bang.

We've got to choose. We need a theory of counterfactuals that applies at deterministic worlds, and our choice is limited to a theory that accepts Slightly Different Laws or Completely Different Past.   Which theory we choose has nothing to do with the free will/determinism problem and everything with how we evaluate counterfactuals (in standard contexts).

Having sorted this out, I will now explain Lewis's critique of the Consequence Argument in a way that doesn't require you to accept the truth of Lewis's theory of counterfactuals:

Lewis's response to the Consequence Argument goes as follows: The argument trades on an equivocation between two counterfactuals.

(C1)  If I had raised my hand, the laws (or the past) would have been different.

(C2)   If I had raised my hand, my decision or action would have caused the laws (or the past) to be different

There is a corresponding equivocation between two ability claims:

 (A1)   I have the ability to do something such that if I did it, the laws (or the past) would have been different.

(A2)   I have the ability to do something such that if I did it, my decision or action would have caused the laws (or the past) to be different.

The problem with the argument, says Lewis, is that it equivocates between these two ability claims. To count as a reductio against the compatibilist, the argument must establish that the compatibilist is committed  to A2. But the compatibilist is committed only to C1 and thus only to A1. The compatibilist is committed only to saying that if determinism is true, we have abilities which we would exercise only if the past (and/or the laws) had been different in the appropriate ways.  And while this may sound odd, it is no more incredible than the claim that the successful exercise of our abilities depends, not only on us, but also on the co-operation of factors outside our control.  Since we are neither superheroes nor gods, we are always in this position, regardless of the truth or falsity of determinism. 

To sum up:  The Consequence Argument was supposed to show that if we attribute ordinary abilities to deterministic agents, we are forced to credit them with incredible past or law-changing abilities as well.  But no such incredible conclusion follows.  All that follows is something that we must accept anyway, as the price of our non-godlike nature: that the exercise of our abilities depends partly on circumstances outside our control.

For Teachers
For Scholars
Notes

1. Vihvelin, 2000

2. Vihvelin, 2000, p.161

3. Vihvelin, 2007

4. Vihvelin, 2000b

5. Fischer, 2008, p.329.

6. Fischer, 2008, p.342.

7. Vihvelin, 2008, p.317.

Bibliography

Fischer, 2008, "Freedom, Foreknowledge, and Frankfurt: A Reply to Vihvelin," Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, ed. Theodore Sizer, John Hawthorne, Dean W. Zimmerman, Blackwell, pp.302-18.

Vihvelin, Kadri, 2000, Noûs, Vol. 34, Supplement: Philosophical Perspectives, 14, Action and Freedom (2000), pp.139-166.

---- 2000b, “Freedom, Foreknowledge, and the Principle of Alternate Possibilities”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 30: 1-24.

---- 2004, "Free Will Demystified" A Dispositional Account" Philosophical Topics 32: Agency, ed. John Fischer, pp.427-50.

---- 2007, "Arguments for Incompatibilism," (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

---- 2008, “Foreknowledge, Frankfurt, and Ability to Do Otherwise: A Reply to Fischer,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 38: pp.327-342.

---- 2008, "Compatibilism, Incompatibilism, and Impossibilism," Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics, ed. Theodore Sizer, John Hawthorne, Dean W. Zimmerman, Blackwell, pp.302-18.


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