The Modern Schoolman

Volume 88, Issue 1/2, January/April 2011

Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Randolph Clarke
Pages 161-169

Responsibility, Mechanisms, and Capacities

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.