Hans (slimstickwhead) wrote in determinism,

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Getting to the Core of Alternate Possibilities

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote a paper that was to change the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (AP) forever. AP says that one must have been able "to have done otherwise" to be morally responsible for his or her actions. Frankfurt cut to the heart of AP, paring it down by a degree. His argument is that AP is convincing to some because it sounds like coercion, that is that a person could not have done otherwise because he was somehow compelled to act as he did, for example if he or she were under "mind-control." A person could have wanted to do what he or she was forced to do, in which case he or she could be held morally responsible for the action, in Frankfurt's writing. He does cut some confusion out of the AP argument against compatibilism, but I have found that he has left a problem equal to the one he sought to rectify -- more important, in fact, because his clear argument does not solve this problem I have found. Granted, one might still be held responsible for something he or she was forced to do but wanted to do anyway. However, this is false because the person could not have wanted to do otherwise. Compatibilism is therefore not saved through Frankfurt's effort.

Harry Frankfurt's paper aiming to save compatibilism.

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