Defeating manipulation arguments: interventionist causation and compatibilist sourcehood

Oisin Deery, Eddy Nahmias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


We use recent interventionist theories of causation to develop a compatibilist account of causal sourcehood, which provides a response to Manipulation Arguments for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Our account explains the difference between manipulation and determinism, against the claim of Manipulation Arguments that there is no relevant difference. Interventionism allows us to see that causal determinism does not mean that variables outside of the agent causally explain her actions better than variables within the agent, whereas the causal source of a manipulated agent’s actions instead lies outside of the agent in the intentions of the manipulator. As a result, determined agents can have free will and be morally responsible in a way that manipulated agents cannot, contrary to what Manipulation Arguments conclude. In this way, our account demonstrates not only how Manipulation Arguments fail but also how compatibilism can be strengthened by means of a plausible account of causal sourcehood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1255–1276
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Causation
  • Determinism
  • Free will
  • Interventionism
  • Manipulation Argument
  • Moral responsibility
  • Zygote Argument


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