Frankfurt-Type Examples and Semi-Compatibilism

John Martin Fischer

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780195178548
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Frankfurt-Type Examples and Semi-Compatibilism

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  • Moral Philosophy
  • Metaphysics



This article provides an overview of arguments for and against Frankfurt-type examples over the past few decades. It considers various strategies by which critics of these examples have tried to rescue the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), or variations of it, and also considers various responses to these critics. It notes that moral responsibility does not require alternative possibilities, but also believes that freedom does imply alternative possibilities. The resulting view is called semicompatibilism. According to semicompatibilism, moral responsibility is compatible with determinism (since it does not require the power to do otherwise), whereas freedom (which does require this power) is not compatible with determinism. The article concludes with an explanation of what motivates this semicompatibilist position and how to give a positive compatibilist account of moral responsibility in terms of notions of guidance control and reasons-responsiveness.

Keywords: alternative possibilities; freedom; semicompatibilism; determinism; moral responsibility

Article.  12663 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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