Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited

Schulte P (2014)
Erkenntnis 79(3): 669-685.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
The compatibilism debate revolves around the question whether moral responsibility and free will are compatible with determinism. Prima facie, this seems to be a substantial issue. But according to the triviality objection, the disagreement is merely verbal: compatibilists and incompatibilists, it is maintained, are talking past each other, since they use the terms "free will" and "moral responsibility" in different senses. In this paper I argue, first, that the triviality objection is indeed a formidable one and that the standard replies to it are unconvincing. This, however, does not mean that the objection succeeds. Starting with the debate about moral responsibility, I attempt to show that there is an account of moral responsibility which enables us to defend the compatibilism debate against the charge of triviality-namely, the normative conception of moral responsibility. If "moral responsibility" is defined in normative terms, then we cannot distinguish between a compatibilist and an incompatibilist sense of "moral responsibility", because such a disambiguation would be inconsistent with the essential action-guiding force of normative expressions. Finally, I examine how the normative conception of moral responsibility can help us to defend the free will debate against the triviality objection and draw some general conclusions.
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Schulte P. Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited. Erkenntnis. 2014;79(3):669-685.
Schulte, P. (2014). Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited. Erkenntnis, 79(3), 669-685.
Schulte, P. (2014). Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited. Erkenntnis 79, 669-685.
Schulte, P., 2014. Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited. Erkenntnis, 79(3), p 669-685.
P. Schulte, “Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited”, Erkenntnis, vol. 79, 2014, pp. 669-685.
Schulte, P.: Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited. Erkenntnis. 79, 669-685 (2014).
Schulte, Peter. “Beyond Verbal Disputes: The Compatibilism Debate Revisited”. Erkenntnis 79.3 (2014): 669-685.
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