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Original scientific paper

Relative Modality and the Ability to do Otherwise

Ralph Weir

Full text: english pdf 235 Kb

page 47-61

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It is widely held that for an action to be free it must be the case that the agent can do otherwise. Compatibilists and incompatibilists disagree over what this ability amounts to. Two recent articles offer novel perspectives on the debate by employing Angelika Kratzer’s semantics of ‘can’. Alex Grzankowski proposes that Kratzer’s semantics favour incompatibilism because they make valid a version of the Consequence Argument. Christian List argues that Kratzer’s semantics favour a novel form of compatibilism. I argue that List’s compatibilist application of Kratzer’s semantics faces problems not faced by Grzankowski’s incompatibilist employment of them. On the other hand I argue that Kratzer’s semantics make Grzankowski’s version of the Consequence Argument valid only at the cost of rendering it dialectically useless. Contrary to both views Kratzer’s semantics do not appear to add substantial weight to either side of the compatibilism/incompatibilism dispute.


free will; determinism; compatibilism; consequence argument

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