Plums, persons, and moral responsibility: Confronting the challenges of ‘creation manipulation’
A new type of argument has arisen in the age-old free will debate that threatens to undermine the plausibility of compatibilism, the theory that free will is compatible with determinism. These new arguments, known as manipulation arguments, have been extremely resilient to criticism but must be dealt with if compatibilism is to survive.
Among the popular varieties of manipulation arguments is a large sub-category I call "Creation Manipulation Arguments". After introducing the design and general strategy of manipulation arguments, I go on, in Chapter 2, to divide the Creation Manipulation Arguments into two further categories, what I call "Create & Tweak Manipulation" and "Create & Release Manipulation". This division sets the stage for a divide-and-conquer approach to defending compatibilism against these types of arguments.
In Chapter 3, I present and refute one of strongest and most well-known Creation Manipulation Arguments, Derk Pereboom's 4-Case Argument. I show that this argument cannot succeed if it is interpreted as an instance of Create & Tweak Manipulation. I then point out that a re-interpretation of the 4-Case Argument as an instance of Create & Release Manipulation could avoid the criticisms that I launch against it, but that opting for the re-interpretation is to sacrifice the novelty and power of the original argument. Furthermore, even when the 4-Case Argument is re-interpreted as a token of Create & Release Manipulation, the argument still faces serious challenges. In Chapter 4, I discuss these challenges and argue that the re-interpretation of the 4-Case Argument also fails, though for different reasons.
In Chapter 5, I apply the conclusions from previous chapters to other famous Creation Manipulation Arguments from Alfred Mele, Michael McKenna, and David Zimmerman in order to close the door on the possibility that any existing or future Creation Manipulation Argument could undermine compatibilism.