Article: ‘Abilities to do otherwise’

This paper, which is forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, comprises some of the work from my PhD thesis, primarily around the nature of intrinsic abilities (and dispositions). The abstract is as follows:

In this paper I outline a number of features of intrinsic dispositions and abilities and discuss how these features are relevant to free will when the latter is understood as requiring the ability to do otherwise. In the first section I will argue that dispositions and abilities are properly characterised or defined not simply by a set of stimulus conditions and a manifestation type, but in addition by a set of circumstances (against which that manifestation is to be expected, given the stimulus conditions). In the second section I will show how this undermines the account of the ability to do otherwise given by Vihvelin in her recent book Causes, laws and free will (2013). In the third and final section I discuss the nature of ability properties as characterised in section 1. I explore some of the different ways that ability properties might relate to each other, and develop a number of principles which enable us to determine whether an ability is relevant to an agent’s ability to do otherwise.

Update (Monday, February 09, 2015): Here’s the Philosophical Studies page.