A maneuver around the modified manipulation argument
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In the recent article “A new approach to manipulation arguments,” Patrick Todd seeks to reframe a common incompatibilist form of argument often leveraged against compatibilist theories of moral responsibility. Known as manipulation arguments, these objections rely on cases in which agents, though they have met standard compatibilist conditions for responsibility, have been manipulated in such a way that they fail to be blameworthy for their behavior. Traditionally, in order to get a manipulation argument off the ground, an incompatibilist must illustrate that a manipulated agent is not at all responsible for her behavior. Todd argues that this is an unnecessarily heavy burden—the incompatibilist need only show that the presence of manipulation mitigates ascriptions of responsibility. Though innovative, Todd fails to present his modified manipulation argument in a way that poses a true threat to the compatibilist. In fact, by introducing a scalar conception of moral responsibility, Todd gives the compatibilist the tools necessary to better handle the incompatibilist’s original manipulation argument.
KeywordsFree will Manipulation Derk Pereboom Patrick Todd Compatibilism Incompatibilism
I would like to thank Michael McKenna, David Schmidtz, and David Glick for their insightful comments, as well as the audiences at the University of Washington Philosophy Graduate Conference on Responsibility and the University of Arizona Freedom Center Brown Bag Series.