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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Not Another Argument

Part five of a series on arguments for/against incompatibilism.

(part one)     (part three)

(part two)     (part four)


In this final post of the series I’ll argue that Andrew Bailey’s (2012) Another Argument (for incompatibilism) fails according to the standards it sets for itself. Recall that the “original” consequence argument, CA, failed as an argument for strict incompatibilism because it relied on a contingent premise to get a necessary conclusion. Joseph Campbell illustrated this nicely via his “Adam” example. Adam is a being who has no past and does a free action in a determined world. Incompatibilists will say Adam’s action couldn’t be free. But how can they show this? Not by the CA. Call this objection, The No Past Objection, NPO. (more…)

Another Argument (For Incompatibilism)

Part four of a series on arguments for/against incompatibilism. 

(part one)     (part three)

(part two)

In this post, I’ll provide the gist of Bailey’s (2012) argument for strict incompatibilism; thus, there will be details left out, but I don’t think passing over them will hinder us as we move forward. It’s important to remember that Bailey’s argument is intended to do three things: (1) get us strict incompatibilism, (2) get us strict incompatibilism without cost (cf. my previous post), and (3) avoid Joseph Campbell’s No Past Objection.

Another Argument


Against the No Past Objection

This is part three of an unnamed series. I guess it’s generally on arguments for strict incompatibilism.

(part one)

(part two)



Incompatibilism, The Consequence Argument, and the No Past Objection


Suppose you believe that free will is incompatible with determinism. It is likely that among your reasons for believing this, you will cite the “Consequence Argument” as chief among them. The Consequence Argument (hereafter, CA) is widely regarded as the best argument for the conclusion that determinism is incompatible with freedom to do otherwise.

In the early 1980s, Peter van Inwagen (1983) developed influential versions of this argument. Influential replies to the CA also appeared, most notable being perhaps David Lewis’s (1982) reply. Eventually, however, debates over the CA became stagnated. Robert Kane (2005, 30) notes that key segments of the debate “tend to reach an impasse.” Likewise, John Martin Fischer (2012, 156) claims that those responses to the CA that make the debate “a real debate” have reached “a Dialectical Stalemate.” This is not to say that no new moves were being made, but much of the debate now seemed largely confined to highly technical discussions surrounding certain contentious modal principles employed in the CA (Kapitan 2011, 131).[1]

Recently, new life appears to have been breathed into debates over the CA with the publication of Joseph Keim Campbell’s (2007) paper, “Free Will and the Necessity of the Past.” As Daniel Speak (2011) notes of Campbell’s objection to the CA: “Although [Beta-blocking and Finessing Fixities] have something of a tradition, [Joseph Campbell’s criticism] appears to be a newcomer to the debate” (124). In this series of posts, I’ll discuss Campbells objection the CA, and then a recent argument by Andrew Bailey (2012) against Campbell’s objection to the CA. (more…)

Coyne on Free Will and Incompatibilism

I’ll make some comments on some of Jerry Coyne’s thoughts on free will and incompatibilism. Some of the issues I raise here will be taken up in my next series (which won’t be nearly as long as the previous one on God and blame!). I haven’t read any responses to Coyne, other than some stuff by Eddy Nahmias, so forgive me if these points have been made elsewhere (which they probably have).

Coyne writes, “I construe free will the way I think most people do: At the moment when you have to decide among alternatives, you have free will if you could have chosen otherwise.” Notice the bolded word, ‘if’. Coyne is giving us a sufficient condition for having free will, that is, if one meets this condition, then one has free will. But surely Coyne can’t be right. For example, (more…)