Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Patrick is a faculty member, as a Chancellor's Fellow, at the University of Edinburgh.  He completed his PhD in philosophy (December 2011) at the University of California, Riverside.  He is interested in metaphysics, ethics, free will and moral responsibility, and philosophy of religion.

A New Approach to Manipulation Arguments

Philosophical Studies 152 (1):127-133 (2011)


There are several argumentative strategies for advancing the thesis that moral responsibility is incompatible with causal determinism. One prominent such strategy is to argue that agents who meet compatibilist conditions for moral responsibility can nevertheless be subject to responsibility-undermining manipulation. In this paper, I argue that incompatibilists advancing manipulation arguments against compatibilism have been shouldering an unnecessarily heavy dialectical burden. Traditional manipulation arguments present cases in which manipulated agents meet all compatibilist conditions for moral responsibility, but are (allegedly) not responsible for their behavior. I argue, however, that incompatibilists can make do with the more modest (and harder to resist) claim that the manipulation in question is mitigating with respect to moral responsibility. The focus solely on whether a manipulated agent is or is not morally responsible has, I believe, masked the full force of manipulation-style arguments against compatibilism. Here, I aim to unveil their real power.

Manipulation and Moral Standing: An Argument for Incompatibilism