, Volume 152, Issue 2, pp 189-207,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Nov 2009

Neo-Frankfurtians and buffer cases: the new challenge to the principle of alternative possibilities

Abstract

The debate over whether Frankfurt-style cases are counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities (PAP) has taken an interesting turn in recent years. Frankfurt originally envisaged his attack as an attempting to show that PAP is false—that the ability to do otherwise is not necessary for moral responsibility. To many this attack has failed. But Frankfurtians have not conceded defeat. Neo-Frankfurtians, as I will call them, argue that the upshot of Frankfurt-style cases is not that PAP is false, but that it is explanatorily irrelevant. Derk Pereboom and David Hunt’s buffer cases are tailor made to establish this conclusion. In this paper I come to the aid of PAP, showing that buffer cases provide no reason for doubting either its truth or relevance with respect to explaining an agent’s moral responsibility.