• The heart of libertarianism: Fundamentality and the will
    Social Philosophy and Policy 36 (1): 72-92. 2019.
    :It is often claimed that libertarianism offers an unattractive conception of free will and moral responsibility because it renders free agency inexplicable and irrational. This essay aims, first, to show that the soundness of these objections turns on more basic disagreements concerning the ideals of free agency and, second, to develop and motivate a truly libertarian conception of the ideals of free agency. The central contention of the essay is that the heart of libertarians’ ideal of free ag…Read more
  •  53
    Plausibility, Manipulation, and Fischer and Ravizza
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (2): 173-192. 2006.
    The manipulation argument poses a significant challenge for any adequate compatibilist theory of agency. The argument maintains that there is no relevant difference between actions or pro-attitudes that are induced by nefarious neurosurgeons, God, or natural causes. Therefore, if manipulation is thought to undermine moral responsibility, then so also ought causal determinism. In this paper, I will attempt to bolster the plausibility of John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza’s semicompatibilist the…Read more
  •  43
    Cares, Identification, and Agency Reductionism
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1): 577-598. 2017.
    Reductionists about agency maintain that an agent’s causing something is reducible to states and events involving the agent causing something. Some worry that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One reductionist answer to this worry, which I call ‘identification reductionism,’ contends that self-governing agents are identified with certain attitudes, and so these attitudes’ causing a decision count as the agent’s self-determining the decision. I ar…Read more
  •  22
    In this book, Christopher Evan Franklin develops and defends a novel version of event-causal libertarianism. This view is a combination of libertarianism--the view that humans sometimes act freely and that those actions are the causal upshots of nondeterministic processes--and agency reductionism--the view that the causal role of the agent in exercises of free will is exhausted by the causal role of mental states and events (e.g., desires and beliefs) involving the agent. Franklin boldly counter…Read more
  •  75
    A theory of the normative force of pleas
    Philosophical Studies 163 (2): 479-502. 2013.
    A familiar feature of our moral responsibility practices are pleas: considerations, such as “That was an accident”, or “I didn’t know what else to do”, that attempt to get agents accused of wrongdoing off the hook. But why do these pleas have the normative force they do in fact have? Why does physical constraint excuse one from responsibility, while forgetfulness or laziness does not? I begin by laying out R. Jay Wallace’s (Responsibility and the moral sentiments, 1994 ) theory of the normative …Read more
  •  293
    Valuing blame
    In D. Justin Coates & Neal A. Tognazzini (eds.), Blame: Its Nature and Norms, Oxford University Press. 2013.
    Blaming (construed broadly to include both blaming-attitudes and blaming-actions) is a puzzling phenomenon. Even when we grant that someone is blameworthy, we can still sensibly wonder whether we ought to blame him. We sometimes choose to forgive and show mercy, even when it is not asked for. We are naturally led to wonder why we shouldn’t always do this. Wouldn’t it be a better to wholly reject the punitive practices of blame, especially in light of their often undesirable effects, and embr…Read more
  •  60
  •  114
    Event-causal libertarians maintain that an agent’s freely bringing about a choice is reducible to states and events involving him bringing about the choice. Agent-causal libertarians demur, arguing that free will requires that the agent be irreducibly causally involved. Derk Pereboom and Meghan Griffith have defended agent-causal libertarianism on this score, arguing that since on event-causal libertarianism an agent’s contribution to his choice is exhausted by the causal role of states and even…Read more
  •  56
    According to reductionists about agency, an agent’s bringing something about is reducible to states and events involving the agent bringing something about. Many have worried that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One common reductionist answer to this worry contends that self-determining agents are identified with certain states and events, and so these states and events causing a decision counts as the agent’s self-determining the decision. In …Read more
  •  44
    Libertarianism has, seemingly, always been in disrepute among philosophers. While throughout history philosophers have offered different reasons for their dissatisfaction with libertarianism, one worry is recurring: namely a worry about luck. To many, it seems that if our choices and actions are undetermined, then we cannot control them in a way that allows for freedom and responsibility. My fundamental aim in this paper is to place libertarians on a more promising track for formulating a defens…Read more
  •  359
    Nearly all defences of the agent-causal theory of free will portray the theory as a distinctively libertarian one — a theory that only libertarians have reason to accept. According to what I call ‘the standard argument for the agent-causal theory of free will’, the reason to embrace agent-causal libertarianism is that libertarians can solve the problem of enhanced control only if they furnish agents with the agent-causal power. In this way it is assumed that there is only reason to accept the ag…Read more
  •  168
    The debate over whether Frankfurt-style cases are counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities has taken an interesting turn in recent years. Frankfurt originally envisaged his attack as an attempting to show that PAP is false—that the ability to do otherwise is not necessary for moral responsibility. To many this attack has failed. But Frankfurtians have not conceded defeat. Neo-Frankfurtians, as I will call them, argue that the upshot of Frankfurt-style cases is not that PAP i…Read more
  •  197
    Seemingly one of the most prominent issues that divide theorists about free will and moral responsibility concerns whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. I defend two claims in this paper. First, that this appearance is illusory: everyone thinks an ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. The central issue is not whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility but which abilities to do otherwise…Read more
  •  37
    The assimilation argument and the rollback argument
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (3): 395-416. 2012.
    Seth Shabo has presented a new argument that attempts to codify familiar worries about indeterminism, luck, and control. His ‘Assimilation Argument’ contends that libertarians cannot distinguish overtly randomized outcomes from exercises of free will. Shabo claims that the argument possesses advantages over the Mind Argument and Rollback Argument, which also purport to establish that indeterminism is incompatible with free will. I argue first that the Assimilation Argument presents no new challe…Read more
  •  81
    Agent-Causation, Explanation, and Akrasia: A Reply to Levy’s Hard Luck (review)
    Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (4): 753-770. 2015.
    I offer a brief review of, and critical response to, Neil Levy’s fascinating recent book Hard Luck, where he argues that no one is ever free or morally responsible not because of determinism or indeterminism, but because of luck. Two of Levy’s central arguments in defending his free will nihilism concern the nature and role of explanation in a theory of moral responsibility and the nature of akrasia. With respect to explanation, Levy argues that an adequate theory of moral responsibility must be…Read more
  •  90
    Powers, Necessity, and Determinism
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (3): 225-229. 2014.
    Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum have argued that a theory of free will that appeals to a powers-based ontology is incompatible with causal determinism. This is a surprising conclusion since much recent work on the intersection of the metaphysics of powers and free will has consisted of attempts to defend compatibilism by appealing to a powers-based ontology. In response I show that their argument turns on an equivocation of ‘all events are necessitated’
  •  184
    Farewell to the luck (and Mind) argument
    Philosophical Studies 156 (2): 199-230. 2011.
    In this paper I seek to defend libertarianism about free will and moral responsibility against two well-known arguments: the luck argument and the Mind argument. Both of these arguments purport to show that indeterminism is incompatible with the degree of control necessary for free will and moral responsibility. I begin the discussion by elaborating these arguments, clarifying important features of my preferred version of libertarianism—features that will be central to an adequate response to th…Read more
  •  114
    The Problem of Enhanced Control
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4). 2011.
    A crucial question for libertarians about free will and moral responsibility concerns how their accounts secure more control than compatibilism. This problem is particularly exasperating for event-causal libertarianism, as it seems that the only difference between these accounts and compatibilism is that the former require indeterminism. But how can indeterminism, a mere negative condition, enhance control? This worry has led many to conclude that the only viable form of libertarianism is agent-…Read more
  •  106
    Conditional analyses of ability have been nearly entirely abandoned by philosophers of action as woefully inadequate attempts of analyzing the concept of ability. Recently, however, Vihvelin (2004) and Fara (2008) have appealed to the similarity between dispositions and abilities, as well as recent advances in the metaphysics of dispositions, in order to construct putatively superior conditional analyses of ability. Vihvelin and Fara claim that their revised conditional analyses of ability enabl…Read more
  •  26
    Bratman on identity over time and identification at a time
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (1): 1-14. 2017.
    According to reductionists about agency, an agent’s bringing something about is reducible to states and events involving the agent bringing something about. Many have worried that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One common reductionist answer to this worry contends that self-determining agents are identified with certain states and events, and so these states and events causing a decision counts as the agent’s self-determining the decision. In …Read more
  •  43
    My dissertation develops a novel theory of free will and moral responsibility, Strawsonian libertarianism, which combines Strawsonianism about the concept of moral responsibility with event-causal libertarianism concerning its conditions of application. I construct this theory in light of and response to the three main objections to libertarianism: the moral shallowness objection, the intelligibility objection, and the empirical plausibility objection.The moral shallowness objection contends tha…Read more