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Frankfurt-Style Cases User Manual: Why Frankfurt-Style Enabling Cases Do Not Necessitate Tech Support

ContributorsCova, Florian
Published inEthical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 17, no. 3, p. 505-521
Publication date2014
Abstract

‘Frankfurt-style cases' (FSCs) are widely considered as having refuted the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) by presenting cases in which an agent is morally responsible even if he could not have done otherwise. However, Neil Levy (J Philos 105:223–239, 2008) has recently argued that FSCs fail because we are not entitled to suppose that the agent is morally responsible, given that the mere presence of a counterfactual intervener is enough to make an agent lose responsibility-grounding abilities. Here, I distinguish two kinds of Frankfurt counter-arguments against the PAP: the direct and the indirect counter-arguments. I then argue that Levy's argument, if valid, can shed doubt on the indirect argument but leaves the direct argument untouched. I conclude that FSCs can still do their job, even if we grant that the mere presence of a counterfactual intervener can modify an agent's abilities.

Keywords
  • Moral responsibility
  • Frankfurt cases
  • Abilities
  • Alternative possibilities
  • Experimental philosophy
Citation (ISO format)
COVA, Florian. Frankfurt-Style Cases User Manual: Why Frankfurt-Style Enabling Cases Do Not Necessitate Tech Support. In: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 2014, vol. 17, n° 3, p. 505–521. doi: 10.1007/s10677-013-9456-x
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ISSN of the journal1386-2820
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