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Alternative Possibilities, Volitional Necessities, and Character Setting

Benjamin Matheson
Published Online: 2018-03-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/disp-2017-0008


Conventional wisdom suggests that the power to do otherwise is necessary for being morally responsible. While much of the literature on alternative possibilities has focused on Frankfurt’s argument against this claim, I instead focus on one of Dennett’s (1984) arguments against it. This argument appeals to cases of volitional necessity rather than cases featuring counterfactual interveners. van Inwagen (1989) and Kane (1996) appeal to the notion of ‘character setting’ to argue that these cases do not show that the power to do otherwise is unnecessary for moral responsibility. In this paper, I argue that their character setting response is unsuccessful.

Keywords: Alternative possibilities; moral responsibility; character setting; volitional necessity; free will


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About the article

Received: 2017-07-27

Accepted: 2017-02-11

Published Online: 2018-03-06

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: Disputatio, Volume 9, Issue 45, Pages 287–307, ISSN (Online) 0873-626X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/disp-2017-0008.

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© 2018. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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