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The Modern Schoolman

Volume 88, Issue 1/2, January/April 2011
Free Will and Moral Responsibility

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Displaying: 1-10 of 10 documents

1. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
William C. Charron An Editor’s Farewell
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2. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Kevin Timpe Tracing and the Epistemic Condition on Moral Responsibility
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In “The Trouble with Tracing,” Manuel Vargas argues that tracing-based approaches to moral responsibility are considerably more problematic than previously acknowledged. Vargas argues that many initially plausible tracing-based cases of moral responsibility turn out to be ones in which the epistemic condition for moral responsibility is not satisfied, thus suggesting that contrary to initial appearances the agent isn’t morally responsible for the action in question. In the present paper, I outline two different strategies for responding to Vargas’s trouble with tracing. I then show how further consideration of the epistemic condition for moral responsibility renders tracing significantly less problematic than Vargas claims.
3. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Daniel Speak Libertarianism, Luck, and Gift
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According to libertarianism, free will requires indeterminism. Many opponents of libertarianism have suggested that indeterminism would inject luck or chance into human action in a problematic way. Alfred Mele’s recent “contrast argument” is an especially clear effort to make this kind of objection to libertarianism precise. This paper is response to the contrast argument on behalf of libertarianism. I argue that worries about luck and chance, enshrined in the contrast argument, arise largely from confusion and lack of imagination. I address the confusion by disambiguating various conclusions the contrast argument is supposed to support. In each case, I claim the libertarian turns out to be on solid ground. I address the lack of imagination by developing (rather tentatively) a hint from William James regarding the relationship between chance and gift.
4. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
C. P. Ragland Softening Fischer’s Hard Compatibilism
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According to “hard” compatibilists, we can be responsible for our actions not only when they are determined by mindless natural causes, but also when some agent other than ourselves intentionally determines us to act as we do. “Soft” compatibilists consider freedom compatible with merely natural determinism, but not with intentional determinism (e.g., theological determinism). Because he believes there is no relevant difference (NRD) between a naturally determined agent and a relevantly similar intentionally determined agent, John Martin Fischer is a hard compatibilist. However, he argues for “historical” compatibilism by appealing to the intuition that certain manipulated agents are not responsible. By considering a new type of manipulation case, I show that Fischer’s appeal to ordinary intuitions about manipulation conflicts with NRD, so that he must choose between the two. The closing section explains why I think going “soft” is Fischer’s better option.
5. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Neal A. Tognazzini Understanding Source Incompatibilism
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Source incompatibilism is an increasingly popular version of incompatibilism about determinism and moral responsibility. However, many self-described source incompatibilists formulate the thesis differently, resulting in conceptual confusion that can obscure the relationship between source incompatibilism and other views in the neighborhood. In this paper I canvas various formulations of the thesis in the literature and argue in favor of one as the least likely to lead to conceptual confusion. It turns out that accepting my formulation has some surprising (but helpful) taxonomical consequences.
6. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Christopher Evan Franklin Masks, Abilities, and Opportunities: Why the New Dispositionalism Cannot Succeed
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Conditional analyses of ability have been nearly entirely abandoned by philosophers of action as woefully inadequate attempts of analyzing the concept of ability. Recently, however, Vihvelin (2004) and Fara (2008) have appealed to the similarity between dispositions and abilities, as well as recent advances in the metaphysics of dispositions, in order to construct putatively superior conditional analyses of ability. Vihvelin and Fara claim that their revised conditional analysesof ability enable them to show that Frankfurt-style cases fail to sever the connection between freedom and responsibility, and that compatibilism about free will and determinism is true. I argue, however, that even granting the truth of their dispositional analyses, they cannot achieve these aims. Vihvelin and Fara’s fundamental error lies in their failing to appreciate the complex nature of free will and moral responsibility—specifically that agents’ freedom and responsibility depend not only on their abilities, but also their opportunities.
7. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Andrei A. Buckareff How Does Agent-Causal Power Work?
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Agent-causalism or the agency theory is the thesis that agents qua objects/substances cause at least some of their decisions (or at least their coming to have an intention that is constitutive of a decision). In this paper, I examine the tenability of an attractive agent-causal account of the metaphysics of the springs of free action developed and defended in the recent work of Timothy O’Connor. Against the backdrop of recent work on causal powers in ontology, I argue that, however attractive the account, O’Connor’s agent-causal theory of free agency is ultimately untenable.
8. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Rebekah L. H. Rice What is a Causal Theorist to Do about Omissions?
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Most philosophers concede that one can properly be held morally responsible for intentionally omitting to do something. If one maintains that omissions are actions (negative actions, perhaps), then assuming the requisite conditions regarding voluntariness are met, one can tell a familiar story about how/why this is. In particular, causal theorists can explain the etiology of an intentionalal omission in causal terms. However, if one denies that omissions are actions of any kind,then the familiar story is no longer available. Some have suggested that this poses a special problem for causal theorists of action. I argue that it does not and, even more interestingly, that it renders a more nuanced understanding of voluntariness (since it no longer applies strictly to actions) and moral responsibility (since you might be to blame, but not for anything you’ve done).
9. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Alicia Finch Experimental Philosophy and the Concept of Moral Responsibility
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In recent years, so-called experimental philosophers have argued that participants in the moral responsibility debate ought to adopt a new methodology. In particular, they argue, the results of experimental surveys ought to be introduced into the debate. According to the experimental philosophers, these surveys are philosophically relevant because they provide information about the moral responsibility judgments that ordinary people make. Moreover, they argue, anaccount of moral responsibility is satisfactory only if it is tightly connected to ordinary judgments. The purpose of this paper is to undermine this argument. I will argue that experimental philosophers have not adequately acknowledged the distinction between metaphysics and conceptual analysis; they have not carefully distinguished what-it-is-to-be morally responsible from the concept of moral responsibility. I will draw this distinction, and then argue that metaphysicians quametaphysicians may both ignore experimental data and offer an account of moral responsibility that satisfies the tight connection desideratum.
10. The Modern Schoolman: Volume > 88 > Issue: 1/2
Randolph Clarke Responsibility, Mechanisms, and Capacities
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Frankfurt-style cases are supposed to show that an agent can be responsible for doing something even though the agent wasn’t able to do otherwise. Neil Levy has argued that the cases fail. Agents in such cases, he says, lack a capacity that they’d have to have in order to be responsible for doing what they do. Here it’s argued that Levy is mistaken. Although it may be that agents in Frankfurt-style cases lack some kind of capability, what they lack isn’t required for them to be responsible for doing what they do. Differences between actions and omissions, and between the requirements for responsibility for these two, are also discussed.