, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 291–307 | Cite as

The Manipulation Argument, At the Very Least, Undermines Classical Compatibilism

  • Yishai CohenEmail author


The compatibility of determinism and the ability to do otherwise has been implicitly assumed by many to be irrelevant to the viability of compatibilist responses to the manipulation argument for incompatibilism. I argue that this assumption is mistaken. The manipulation argument may be unsound. But even so, the manipulation argument, at the very least, undermines classical compatibilism, the view that free will requires the ability to do otherwise, and having that ability is compatible with determinism. This is because classical compatibilism, in conjunction with any type of reply to the manipulation argument, has counterintuitive implications. In order to avoid such implications, we need not hold that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility. But we must hold that determinism is incompatible with the ability to do otherwise.


Manipulation Determinism Compatibilism Alternative possibilities Responsibility Frankfurt-style cases Derk Pereboom Kadri Vihvelin 



An early version of this paper was presented at the “Free Will and Moral Responsibility” summer school, hosted by the Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies; thanks to all participants in this group for helpful comments. Additionally, for helpful comments and discussion, I am grateful to Lorenza D’Angelo, John Fischer, Mark Heller, Sofia Jeppsson, Simon Kittle, Benjamin Matheson, Dan Miller, Matthew Talbert, Travis Timmerman, and an anonymous referee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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