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Reasons, Determinism and the Ability to Do Otherwise
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, S-405 30 Gothenburg, SE, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7425-3041
2016 (English)In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, ISSN 1386-2820, E-ISSN 1572-8447, Vol. 19, no 5, p. 1225-1240Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It has been argued that in a deterministic universe, no one has any reason to do anything. Since we ought to do what we have most reason to do, no one ought to do anything either. Firstly, it is argued that an agent cannot have reason to do anything unless she can do otherwise; secondly, that the relevant ‘can’ is incompatibilist. In this paper, I argue that even if the first step of the argument for reason incompatibilism succeeds, the second one does not. It is argued that reasons require alternative possibilities, because reasons are action-guiding. A supposed reason to do the impossible, or to do what was inevitable anyway, could not fill this function. I discuss different interpretations of the claim that reasons are action-guiding, and show that according to one interpretation it is sufficient that the agent believes that she has several alternative options. According to other interpretations, the agent must really have alternative options, but only in a compatibilist sense. I suggest that an interpretation of action-guidance according to which reasons can only guide actions when we have several options open to us in an incompatibilist sense cannot be found. We should therefore assume that reasons and obligations are compatible with determinism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2016. Vol. 19, no 5, p. 1225-1240
Keywords [en]
Compatibilism, Incompatibilism, Objective reasons, ‘ought’ implies‘can’, The ability to do otherwise, Determinism
National Category
Ethics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-167751DOI: 10.1007/s10677-016-9721-xISI: 000387230900011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-167751DiVA, id: diva2:1390766
Available from: 2020-02-03 Created: 2020-02-03 Last updated: 2020-02-18Bibliographically approved

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Jeppsson, Sofia

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • Other style
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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