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.

Manipulation Arguments and the Freedom to Do Otherwise

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming)


I provide a manipulation-style argument against classical compatibilism – the claim that freedom to do otherwise is consistent with determinism. My question is simple: if Diana (the designer) really gave Ernie (the designed) free will, why isn’t she worried that he won’t use it precisely as she would like? Diana’s non- nervousness, I argue, indicates Ernie’s non-freedom. Arguably, the intuition that Ernie lacks freedom to otherwise is stronger than the direct intuition that he is simply not responsible; this result highlights the importance of the denial of the principle of alternative possibilities for compatibilist theories of responsibility. Along the way, I clarify the dialectical role and structure of “manipulation arguments”, and compare the manipulation argument I develop with the more familiar Consequence Argument. I contend that the two arguments are importantly mutually supporting and reinforcing. The result: classical compatibilists should be nervous – and if PAP is true, all compatibilists should be nervous.

Strawson, Moral Responsibility, and the "Order of Explanation": An Intervention