Chapter

Abilities

Dana Kay Nelkin

in Making Sense of Freedom and Responsibility

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608560
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729638 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608560.003.0004
Abilities

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It has been argued that the ability to do otherwise is required for both praiseworthy and blameworthy actions, because so-called Frankfurt-cases can be constructed for each kind of action. If this were correct, then the rational abilities view would be undermined. By appealing to a particular understanding of “abilities,” it is argued in this chapter that these cases do not show what is claimed of them. But the rational abilities view still faces a special difficulty when it comes to determinism. Does the rational abilities view imply that we can be responsible for determined actions only when they are praiseworthy? If so, that seems problematic. It is argued here that the rational abilities view can address this objection, as well. Finally, it is argued that the ability to do otherwise required for morally blameworthy actions must include the ability to respond to moral reasons in particular.

Keywords: abilities; Frankfurt-cases; praiseworthy; blameworthy; determinism; rational abilities

Chapter.  6982 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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