Libertarianism and Frankfurt-style Cases

Laura Waddell Ekstrom

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Libertarianism and Frankfurt-style Cases

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This article defends a number of objections to Frankfurt-style examples, arguing that intuitions to the effect that agents are morally responsible in such examples beg the question against those who believe free will is incompatible with determinism. It also discusses a new Frankfurt-style example put forward in an influential article by Alfred Mele and David Robb (1998), which was designed to answer objections to earlier Frankfurt-style cases by incompatibilist critics such as Widerker and Kane. The article concludes that no amount of psychological complexity is sufficient for free will. We have the power to act freely only if at some time we are able to act otherwise than as we do. The literature on Frankfurt-style scenarios has not overturned traditionalism concerning the necessity of free will for moral responsibility.

Keywords: moral responsibility; free will; determinism; incompatibilism

Article.  6144 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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