A sketch of Fischer’s compatibilism
Before I proceed to the next section which describes my worries about Fischer’s compatibilism, it will be helpful to have in front of us a rudimentary sketch of how I understand his account.
Fischer believes that Frankfurt-style counter-examples (e.g. Frankfurt 1969, 835-6) speak decisively against the idea that responsibility requires alternative possibilities or contra-causal powers – what he calls regulative control – since in these examples intuition suggests that the person in question is responsible for what they did despite the fact that they could not have done otherwise (Fischer and Ravizza 1998, 29-34). Fischer contends that the reason why we retain the intuition that agents in Frankfurt-style counter-examples are responsible despite lacking regulative control is because they possess what he calls guidance control (Fischer and Ravizza 1998, 34-41). On his account, a person has guidance control when their actions issue from their own6 moderately reasons-responsive mechanisms or when they are responsible for7 the fact that their mechanism was not moderately reasons-responsive. Mechanisms are moderately reasons-responsive when they are regularly receptive and weakly reactive to reasons. A mechanism is regularly receptive if it is receptive to a rationally understandable pattern of reasons (Fischer and Ravizza 1998, 65-90). And a mechanism is weakly reactive to reasons if it reacts to those reasons in at least some possible worlds, even though it may not react to those reasons in this actual world (1998, 69-85).