On Manipulated Agents and History-Sensitive Compatibilism

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2 Scopus citations


In this paper I explore various themes in Alfred Mele's Manipulated Agents: A Window to Moral Responsibility (OUP 2019). I develop four points. First, I argue that Mele's historical requirement for moral responsibility for developed morally responsible agents should be coupled with a nonhistorical theory of initially developing agents (like toddlers). Second, I argue that one might resist Mele's negative historical requirement (wherein agents must lack certain responsibility-defeating histories) with a minimal positive historical requirement according to which an agent has a history wherein she did not undergo any responsibility-defeating events, like being severely manipulated.Third, I also explore the idea that one who defended a nonhistorical view, such as Harry Frankfurt's, might rely on a different conception of what moral responsibility is. This might explain why some resisting Mele would not have the intuition that in certain cases a manipulated agent is not responsible. Finally, I question how we should think of the role of intuition in thought experiments figuring centrally in Mele's work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-298
Number of pages14
JournalCriminal Law and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Alfred Mele
  • Externalism
  • Free will
  • Grandmothers
  • Internalism
  • Manipulation
  • Moral responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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