Faculty of Social Sciences

(CANCELLED) Maria Svedberg: "Compatibilism vs. Incompatibilism: Ability"

The Higher Seminar in Practical Philosophy

(NB, cancelled)

Maria Svedberg, Uppsala University: "Compatibilism vs. Incompatibilism: Ability"


Abstract
I will in this paper explore whether analyzing ‘was able to’ could be a way out of the purported stalemate in the free will debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists. Incompatibilists appeal to arguments such as Peter van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument, which is designed to show that if determinism is true, then no one is ever able to act otherwise. Compatibilists who question the soundness of this argument are committed to the claim that deterministic agents sometimes are able do something such that if they did it, then the laws of nature or the remote past would have been different. However, it has turned out to be difficult for each side to come up with an argument that the other part would not consider question-begging. A recent attempt to pave a way out of this deadlock has been to explore the notion of ability. How are we to understand the ability that, given the truth of determinism, compatibilists believe in and incompatibilists deny the possibility of? I will show that an account of ability proposed by John Maier (2015, 2018) does not succeed in breaking the deadlock.