Do Compatibilists Need Alternative Possibilities?
In a recent and highly engaging paper, Reid Blackman argues against the principle (‘CAN’) that if determinism is true, then it is not the case that one can do otherwise. He says that the combination of determinism, CAN, and plausible principles, such as the ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ principle, entails false conclusions about the normative, including the propositions that people never fail to do what they ought to have done and one never has any reason to do anything but what one does. If CAN is, indeed, false compatibilists ought to be motivated to defend a reading of ‘can’ such that one can do otherwise even if determinism is true. In this paper I argue against Blackman’s dismissal of CAN on the basis that his relevant arguments are insufficiently sensitive to strong and weak readings of ‘can.’
KeywordsMoral Responsibility Moral Obligation Alternative Possibility Good World Causal Determinism
I am most grateful to two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions.
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