The Consequence Argument Revisited

Daniel Speak

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Second edition

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399691
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Consequence Argument Revisited


This article surveys the most recent versions of the Consequence Argument and objections to them. It considers objections made to some of the more well-known versions of the argument and recent attempts by defenders to answer these objections by offering reformulated versions of it. Many objections involve a principle van Inwagen called “Beta,” which is regarded by many as the most controversial assumption of the argument. Beta is a “transfer of powerlessness” principle, which states, roughly, that if you are powerless to change something “p” (e.g., the past or the laws of nature), then you are also powerless to change any of the logical consequences of “p.” The discussion considers various formulations of Beta as well as purported counterexamples to it and responses to these counterexamples by current defenders of the Consequence Argument.

Keywords: van Inwagen; Consequence Argument; powerlessness; Beta

Article.  8340 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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