Issue 57, March 2019
New Dispositionalism and Intrinsic Fink Problems
Smith (2003) proposes a dispositional account of alternative possibilities, called New Dispositionalism, to resist Frankfurt’s claim that moral responsibility does not require alternative possibilities (or the ability to do otherwise). He argues that, in Frankfurt’s case (1969), the agent’s alternative possibility is masked by the intervener, but it is nevertheless a present alternative possibility. Frankfurt’s case, hence, is not a genuine counterexample to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities at all. However, according to Cohen and Handfield (2007), Smith’s account is shown to be untenable for the reason that it does not work for all Frankfurt-type examples unless it is implausibly committed to intrinsic finks. In this paper, I argue that Cohen and Handfield’s criticism is not conclusive since it presupposes the debatable conditional analysis of dispositions.