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Manipulation Arguments and Libertarian Accounts of Free Will

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2020



In response to the increasingly popular manipulation argument against compatibilism, some have argued that libertarian accounts of free will are vulnerable to parallel manipulation arguments, and thus manipulation is not uniquely problematic for compatibilists. The main aim of this article is to give this point a more detailed development than it has previously received. Prior attempts to make this point have targeted particular libertarian accounts but cannot be generalized. By contrast, I provide an appropriately modified manipulation that targets all libertarian accounts of freedom and responsibility—an especially tricky task given that libertarian accounts are a motley set. I conclude that if manipulation arguments reveal any theoretical cost then it is one borne by all accounts according to which we are free and responsible, not by compatibilism in particular.

Copyright © American Philosophical Association 2020

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For helpful discussion and for comments on previous drafts of this article, I thank the members of my dissertation committee, John Fischer, Dana Nelkin, Michael Nelson, Derk Pereboom, and Eric Schwitzgebel, as well as Dave Beglin, Gabriel De Marco, Matt Flummer, Andrew Law, Meredith McFadden, Jonah Nagashima, and Jeremy Pober. Thanks also to two anonymous reviewers for this journal.


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