Vihvelin and Fischer on ‘Pre-decisional’ Intervention

Abstract

Vihvelin argues that Frankfurt-style cases should be divided into two kinds, according to when the trigger for the intention takes place: either prior to the agent's choice or after it. Most agree that only the former, which I call pre-decisional intervention, stands a chance of removing all of an agent's alternatives. Vihvelin notes that both sides in the dispute over whether there is a successful case of pre-decisional intervention assume that if there is a successful case, then it will be a case where the agent has no alternative. Vihvelin thinks this is a mistake: agents subject to pre-decisional intervention still have alternatives, and the intricate discussion and development of ever more complex Frankfurt-style cases is beside the point. She argues for this by presenting a case, purportedly analogous to Frankfurt-style cases, where it is clear that there are alternatives available. Fischer has replied by disputing the analogy. In this paper I argue that Vihvelin is right to think the cases are analogous, but that both Fischer and Vihvelin are wrong to think that Vihvelin's parallel case is one where there are alternatives. Despite appearances, this is not the case, and I construct a Fischer-inspired argument to show this.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It is interesting to note that if Lowe’s semantics of counterfactuals are correct then an ambiguity is exactly what we have here Lowe 1990, p. 81.

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Correspondence to Simon Kittle.

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Kittle, S. Vihvelin and Fischer on ‘Pre-decisional’ Intervention. Philosophia 42, 987–997 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-014-9551-9

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Keywords

  • Free will
  • Determinism
  • Alternative possibilities
  • Frankfurt-style cases