Abstract for Helen Beebee

Lewis and van Inwagen on the Consequence Argument

David Lewis’s well-known response to the Consequence Argument for incompatibilism, in ‘Are we free to break the laws?’, trades on the distinction between being able to do something that would be or cause a miracle and being able to do something such that, if one did it, a law would have been broken. In response, van Inwagen in effect insists that this is a distinction without a difference: either way, deterministic agents with the ability to do otherwise would have to be miracle-workers. I argue that van Inwagen’s worry has some bite, and that the right compatibilist solution to the problem is to come up with a theory of abilities that explains why the above distinction holds rather than (as Lewis does in AWFTBL) merely stipulating that it does.