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Incompatibility thesis - English to English Translation

Of the two possible indexing theories, the free indexing theory can handle rule incompatibility phenomena, but the other theory (the simultaneous indexing theory in our terminology) cannot.

Here is an incompatibilist argument that codifies the considerationsset out above:

As set out in section 4, three major contributions in the 1960sprofoundly altered the face of compatibilism: the incompatibilists'Consequence Argument (section 4.1), Frankfurt's attack on the Principleof Alternative Possibilities (PAP) (section 4.2), and Strawson's focusupon the reactive attitudes (section 4.3). Each instigated majordevelopments in contemporary debates about free will. Every account ofcompatibilism in the contemporary literature is shaped in some way byat least one of these influences. This section will focus upon six ofthe most significant contemporary compatibilist positions. Thosewishing to learn about cutting edge work can read the supplement on .

Incompatibility thesis (English to English translation)

Here is an incompatibilist argument that codifies the considerationsset out above:

As suggested above (section 4.1), one compatibilist strategy is tosidestep the debate over the truth of the second premise of theClassical Incompatibilist Argument as set out in section 2.1: Ifdeterminism is true, no one can do otherwise. An alternative strategyis to attack the first premise of the Classical IncompatibilistArgument: If a person acts of her own free will, then she could havedone otherwise. This compatibilist response turns away from the Gardenof Forking Paths model of control and seeks to ground an agent’scontrol over his action in other features of his or her agency. In hisseminal 1969 paper, “Moral Responsibility and AlternatePossibilities,” Harry Frankfurt developed an argument that gavecompatibilists the resources to argue in just this way. Frankfurt'sargument was directed against the Principle of AlternativePossibilities (PAP):

Perhaps not surprisingly, an enormous (and intricate) literature hasemerged around the success of Frankfurt's argument and, in particular,around the example Frankfurt offered as contrary to PAP.[]The debate is very much alive, and no clear victor has emerged (in theway that the incompatibilists can rightly claim to have laid to restthe compatibilists' conditional analysis strategy (see section 3.3)).Regardless, what is most relevant to this essay is that Frankfurt'sargument inspired many compatibilists to begin thinking about accountsof freedom or control that unabashedly turn away from a Garden ofForking Paths model.

Translation of Incompatibility thesis in English - Babylon

This argument shook compatibilism, and rightly so. The classicalcompatibilists' failure to analyze statements of an agent's abilitiesin terms of counterfactual conditionals (see section 3.3) left thecompatibilists with no perspicuous retort to the crucial second premiseof the Classical Incompatibilist Argument (see section 2.1). And theConsequence Argument provides powerful support for thisargument’s second premise. If, according to the Argument,determinism implies that the future will unfold in only one way, and ifno one has any power to alter its unfolding in that particular way,then it seems that no one can do other than she does. It is fair to saythat the Consequence Argument earned the incompatibilists thedialectical advantage. The burden of proof was placed upon thecompatibilists, at least to show what was wrong with the ConsequenceArgument, and better yet, to provide some positive account of theability to do otherwise. So even though many compatibilistsare committed to thinking that the Consequence Argument is unsound, itnevertheless set the agenda for many contemporary compatibilisttheories of free will and moral responsibility.

Before we can get to the new developments in contemporarycompatibilist theories, we much first appreciate their immediatehistorical antecedents. In the 1960s, three major contributionsto the free will debate radically altered it. One was anincompatibilist argument that put crisply the intuition that adetermined agent lacks control over alternatives. This argument, firstdeveloped by Carl Ginet, came to be known as the ConsequenceArgument (Ginet, 1966). Another contribution was Harry Frankfurt'sargument against the Principle of Alternative Possibilities(PAP), a principle stating that an agent is morally responsible forwhat she does only if she can do otherwise (Frankfurt, 1969).Frankfurt's argument turned upon an example in which, an agentapparently cannot do otherwise, but is nevertheless morallyresponsible. Finally, P.F. Strawson defended compatibilism by invitingboth compatibilists and incompatibilists to attend more carefully tothe central role of interpersonal relationships and the reactiveattitudes in understanding the concept of moral responsibility(Strawson, 1962). According to Strawson, the threat determinismallegedly poses to free will and moral responsibility is defused oncethe place of the reactive attitudes is properly appreciated. Each ofthese contributions changed dramatically the way that the free willproblem is addressed in contemporary discussions. No account of freewill, compatibilist or incompatibilist, is advanced today withouttaking into account at least one (if not more) of these threepieces.

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Incompatibility thesis scientists

It should be pointed out that the classical compatibilists'failure to prove that ‘could have done otherwise’statements are compatible with determinism does not amount toa proof that ‘could have done otherwise’ statements areincompatible with determinism. So the incompatibilists'compelling counterexamples to the analysis (such as the one involvingDanielle and the blond haired puppy) do not alone prove thatdeterminism is incompatible with the freedom to do otherwise.

Talk:Incompatibility thesis - Wikipedia

Despite the classical compatibilists' ingenuity, their analysis ofcould have done otherwise failed decisively. The classicalcompatibilists wanted to show their incompatibilist interlocutors thatwhen one asserted that a freely willing agent had alternativesavailable to her—that is, when it was asserted that she couldhave done otherwise—that assertion could be analyzed as aconditional statement, a statement that is perspicuously compatiblewith determinism. But as it turned out, the analysis was refuted whenit was shown that the conditional statements sometimes yielded theimproper result that a person was able to do otherwise even though itwas clear that at the time the person acted, she had no suchalternative and therefore was not able to do otherwise in the pertinentsense (Chisholm, 1964, in Watson, ed., 1982, pp.26–7; or vanInwagen, 1983, pp.114–9). Here is such an example:

The Incompatibility of Happiness and Truth

The classical compatibilist account of freedom set out thus far canbe thought of as accounting for one-way freedom, which fixesonly on what a person does do, not on what alternatives she had to whatshe did. Hence, it can be understood exclusively in terms of aSource model of control. The incompatibilist challenge at issuehere is that such freedom, even if necessary, is insufficient in theabsence of a further freedom to do other than as one does. Inresponse, the classical compatibilists, such as Hobbes and Hume, alsoargued for a sort of two-way freedom.[]Hence, classical compatibilists were prepared to defend a Garden ofForking Paths model of control.


In “Freedom and Resentment” (1962), P.F. Strawson brokeranks with the classical compatibilists. Strawson developed threedistinct arguments for compatibilism, arguments quite different fromthose the classical compatibilists endorsed. But more valuable than hisarguments was his general theory of what moral responsibility is, andhence, what is at stake in arguing about it. Strawson held that boththe incompatibilists and the compatibilists had misconstrued the natureof moral responsibility. Each disputant, Strawson suggested, advancedarguments in support of or against a distorted simulacrum of the realdeal.

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