Chapter

The compatibilist and the could-have-acted-otherwise condition

Martha Klein

in Determinism, Blameworthiness, and Deprivation

Published in print May 1990 | ISBN: 9780198248347
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681134 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198248347.003.0002

Series: Oxford Philosophical Monographs

The compatibilist and the could-have-acted-otherwise condition

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The debate between compatibilist and incompatibilist about determinism and moral responsibility has centred on the could-have- acted-otherwise claim. The incompatibilist has claimed that moral responsibility requires the ability to have acted otherwise and has argued that, since it cannot be true that a person could have acted otherwise if it is also true that there were determining causes for his act, the existence of blameworthiness is inconsistent with the truth of determinism. The compatibilist agrees that moral responsibility requires the ability to have acted otherwise but denies that fulfilment of the could-have-acted-otherwise condition is precluded by the truth of determinism. Thus, while both appear to be agreed that there is a could-have-acted-otherwise condition for moral responsibility, they disagree about the way the claim is to be interpreted. Both the compatibilist and the incompatibilist have misconceived the nature of their debate. This chapter argues that the compatibilist is wrong to think that he is committed to the belief that there is a could-have-acted-otherwise condition for blameworthiness, and that the incompatibilist is wrong to think that he needs to be committed to a could-have-acted-otherwise condition.

Keywords: compatibilist; incompatibilist; determinism; moral responsibility; could-have-acted-otherwise

Chapter.  9057 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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