Capacities and counterfactuals: a reply to Haji and McKenna

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In a recent paper, Ishtiyaque Haji and Michael McKenna argue that my attack on Frankfurt-style cases fails. I had argued that we cannot be confident that agents in these cases retain their responsibility-underwriting capacities, because what capacities an agent has can depend on features of the world external to her, including merely counterfactual interveners. Haji and McKenna argue that only when an intervention is actual does the agent gain or lose a capacity. Here I demonstrate that this claim is false: capacities are dispositions that can be constituted by features of the environment that are currently inactive. I also reply to two other objections: that my argument begs the question against historical accounts of moral responsibility and that it leaves the very locus of free action, our mental acts, untouched.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-620
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


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