Manipulation arguments and the freedom to do otherwise

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Abstract / Description of output

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 (the designer) really gave Ernie (the designed) 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 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-407
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Issue number2
Early online date5 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2017


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