FW Rowe essay

FW Rowe essay - Scott M Welch Free Will Dr Kinlaw Review...

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Scott M. Welch Free Will Dr. Kinlaw April 17, 2006 Review of: “Causing and Being Responsible for What Is Inevitable” In the article “Causing and Being Responsible for What Is Inevitable,” William L. Rowe responds to an article written by Peter van Inwagen that holds a Frankfurt style principle of alternative possibility, or PAP, in order to show an agent is not responsible in cases where the outcome is already resolved. Rowe contends that van Inwagen’s stance on PAP is flawed and he attempts to provide a clearer line of what PAP truly means. The purpose of this essay is to unfold Rowe’s definition of PAP, review his understanding of van Inwagen’s stance on PAP, and concludes by defending Rowe’s argument against van Inwagen and his use of Frankfurt’s PAP. William Rowe covers a lot of material in a relatively short amount of space. His essay begins with examples of situations in which an agent has the ability to either switch or not switch a train on a particular track. The examples he uses are labeled A, B, and C. Each is a progressively stronger argument for what seems to be an inevitable scenario. The next few paragraphs will summarize each situation and place emphasis on key ideas peculiar to the examples B and C. In example A, Rowe lays out a generic situation from which he builds off from. The example he provides is of a train traveling down a track (2) towards a fork. At this fork the agent has in her power the option of switching the train to track (1) or allowing it
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to continue down track (2). The kicker is that on track (1) a dog is tied down to it. Rowe concludes this example by stating the agent does in fact throw the switch, which makes her the cause of the train switching tracks, from (2) to (1), and the cause of the dog being hit by the train. His emphasis here is on the fact that it is widely accepted given this initial example “We are also entitled, prima facie, to hold you responsible for these consequences.” This first example gets compounded in example B when he adds the following. In example B, Rowe provides the same train and track and agent with her above given powers. Yet in this example he states the dog is not tied to track (1) or (2), yet it is tied at the converging point of the two tracks. In this example the agent still throws the switch, causing the train to switch to track (1), yet Rowe deciphers something a little differently about what she is truly responsible for. His analysis of this example says that the agent is in a position to only be responsible for the train hitting the dog via track (1). He demands that in this scenario the agent is not responsible for the train hitting the dog, since the train hitting the dog is inevitable. These last two cases seem to flow logically from given examples and common sense. However, the next example adds a few more conundrums into the mix. Example C is Rowe’s selling point in his argument against van Inwagen’s idea of
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FW Rowe essay - Scott M Welch Free Will Dr Kinlaw Review...

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