Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)

First Advisor

Dr. Mitchell Haney

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Fisher

Third Advisor

Dr. Rico Vitz


This work considers the soundness of Henry Frankfurt's argument that the principle of alternative possibilities is false and the implications of his argument for holding agents responsible in a causally determined universe. Frankfurt does seem to be pointing clearly to the fact that many of us do continue to hold agents responsible despite a lack of alternative possibilities. What Frankfurt may be lacking is an adequate account of control which is taken up by John Martin Fischer. What Fischer presents us with is the possibility that the reason why we continue to hold Jones responsible is because of the kind of control that agents maintain. He contends that because Jones has guidance control of his actions, Jones is morally responsible. My contention has been that Jones does not have sufficient control to be held responsible because, despite Fischer's claim to the contrary, Jones does not actually have a reasons-responsive mechanism and, so, Jones also does not have guidance control. Instead, it seems that Jones' actions are only reasons-resultant as he cannot actually respond to reasons-even in relevantly similar possible worlds.

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