Volume 35, Issue 1, January 2019
Free Will, Resiliency and Flip-flopping
Many philosophers accept with certainty that we are morally responsible but take it to be an open question whether determinism holds. They treat determinism as epistemically compatible with responsibility. Should one who accepts this form of epistemic compatibilism also hold that determinism is metaphysically compatible with responsibility—that it is metaphysically possible for determinism and responsibility to coexist? John Martin Fischer gives two arguments that appear to favor an affirmative answer to this question. He argues that accounts of responsibility, such as his, that are neutral with respect to whether responsible actions are determined have a “resiliency” that counts in their favor. Furthermore, he criticizes libertarians who argue on a priori grounds that determinism cannot coexist with responsibility and who admit that they would retract their argument if determinism were shown to hold; this “metaphysical fl ip-flopping” is said to render their positions implausible. I assess the merits of these arguments.