Fischer's way: The next level

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I present an analogy between analytic philosophy and a particular sort of computer game, and analyze some aspects of John Martin Fischer's My Way in the light of this analogy. I set out the different levels of the free will question, and explore how well Fischer does on them. On the compatibility level, he succeeds, in my view, in confronting the "metaphysical challenge" and the "manipulation challenge", but does less well with the "moral arbitrariness challenge". The compatibilist perspective captures only part of the moral and personal truth on the compatibility issue, and is shown to be inherently shallow. On the next levels we see that Fischer confronts particular dangers: the very virtues that make his minimalist position so resilient on the second (compatibility) level, render it too impoverished when it comes to the third, which asks about the very importance of taking moral responsibility seriously. Connecting to other positions (such as P.F. Strawson's version of naturalism) may be an imperative, but would also be risky. Likewise, on the fourth level, where we confront the difficulty of deciding how to deal with the previous conclusions, it is doubtful how well Fischer can do, given his previous philosophical commitments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Compatibilism
  • Free will
  • John Martin Fischer
  • Moral arbitrariness
  • Moral responsibility
  • Moral shallowness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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